Title:
Monitoring cancer stem cells
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to methods of monitoring cancer stem cells in patients undergoing cancer therapy to determine whether the cancer therapy is an effective cancer therapy. The present invention relates to methods for monitoring the amount of cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following cancer treatment of a patient. In particular, the methods provide measuring the amount of cancer stem cells i) in a sample obtained from a patient and/or ii) in a patient via in vivo imaging, e.g. at different time points before, during or after a treatment regimen for cancer. The change in amount of cancer stem cells over time allows the physician to judge the effectiveness of the treatment regimen and then to decide to continue, alter, or halt the treatment regimen if need be. The present invention also provides kits for monitoring cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following cancer treatment of a patient. The present invention also provides for a method of treatment of cancer, wherein such method involves the use of a therapeutic agent that stabilizes or reduces the amount of cancer stem cells in or from a patient.



Inventors:
Bergstein, Ivan (New York, NY, US)
Cirrito, Thomas P. (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/899690
Publication Date:
05/22/2008
Filing Date:
09/07/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
424/9.1, 424/9.6, 435/7.23, 435/29, 530/387.1, 536/23.1, 424/1.69
International Classes:
A61K51/10; A61K49/00; A61K51/08; C07H21/04; C07K16/00; C12Q1/02; G01N33/574
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Other References:
Dontu et al (Breast Cancer Research, 2004, Vol. 6, pp. R605-R615)
Al-Hajj et al (Current Opinion in Genetics and Development, 2004, Vol. 14, pp. 43-47).
Primary Examiner:
CANELLA, KAREN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
McNeill Baur PLLC (125 Cambridge Park Drive Suite 301, Cambridge, MA, 02140, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method for monitoring cancer stem cells in or from a patient with cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells from the patient.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising comparing the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample obtained from the patient to the amount of cancer stem cells in a reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, wherein a stabilization or a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample relative to the reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, indicates that the cancer therapy is effective.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the reference sample is a sample obtained from the patient prior to undergoing cancer therapy.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein the reference sample is from the patient from a prior date of therapy.

5. The method of claim 2, wherein the reference sample is a sample obtained from a second patient.

6. The method of claim 2, wherein the reference sample is obtained from a second individual who has not been diagnosed with cancer.

7. A method for monitoring the cancer stem cell population in a patient undergoing treatment for cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells in a patient undergoing cancer therapy, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by using an immunoassay.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the immunoassay is selected from the group consisting of western blots, immunohistochemistry, radioimmunoassays, ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay), “sandwich” immunoassays, immunoprecipitation assays, precipitin reactions, gel diffusion precipitin reactions, immunodiffusion assays, agglutination assays, complement-fixation assays, immunoradiometric assays, fluorescent immunoassays, immunofluorescence, protein A immunoassays, flow cytometry, and FACS analysis.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using a flow cytometer.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined with one or more antibodies that bind cell surface markers.

11. The method of claim 9, wherein the cancer stem cells are contacted with one or more dyes prior to detection in the flow cytometer.

12. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by immunohistochemistry.

13. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using a sphere forming assay.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using a cobblestone assay.

15. A method for monitoring cancer stem cells in a patient with cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells from the patient, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by culturing a sample obtained from the patient, or a portion thereof, and quantitating the cancer stem cells in an in vitro assay.

16. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by using an immunocompromised mouse in vivo engraftment model.

17. The method of claim 1, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using in vivo imaging.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the in vivo imaging uses an imaging agent.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the imaging agent is an antibody or antibody fragment or protein that binds to a cancer stem cell, which agent is attached to a detectable agent including a fluorescent tag, a radionuclide, a heavy metal or a photon-emitter.

20. The method of claim 1, wherein the sample obtained from the patient is subjected to one or more pretreatment steps prior to determining the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample.

21. The method of claim 1, wherein the sample obtained from the patient is a biological fluid, a bone marrow biopsy, a tumor biopsy or normal tissue biopsy.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the biological fluid is blood, serum, urine, or interstitial fluid.

23. A method for monitoring cancer stem cells in or from a patient diagnosed with cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells from the patient, wherein the patient is being treated for a cancer selected from the group consisting of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), breast cancer, brain cancer, acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), lymphoma, melanoma, ependymoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), hairy cell leukemia, and stomach cancer.

24. The method of claim 1, wherein the cancer therapy is chemotherapy, small molecule therapy, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, surgical therapy, differentiation therapy, immunotherapy, protein therapy, hormonal therapy, anti-angiogenesis therapy, epigenetic therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of the foregoing.

25. A method for monitoring the efficacy of a cancer therapy for a patient with cancer, the method comprising: (a) determining the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient following the administration of the cancer therapy; and (b) comparing the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient to the amount of cancer stem cells in a reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, wherein the cancer therapy is efficacious if there is a stabilization or a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient relative to the amount in the reference sample or the predetermined reference range.

26. A method for monitoring the efficacy of a cancer therapy for a patient with cancer, the method comprising: (a) determining the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient following the administration of the cancer therapy; and (b) comparing the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient to the amount of cancer stem cells in a reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, wherein the cancer therapy is not efficacious if there is an increase in the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient relative to the amount in the reference sample or the predetermined reference range.

27. The method of claim 25, wherein the comparison indicates to the physician that the therapy should be halted, altered, or continued.

28. The method of claim 26, wherein the comparison indicates to the physician that the therapy should be halted, altered, or continued.

29. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the reference sample is a sample taken from the patient prior to or during the administration of cancer therapy.

30. The method of claim 29, wherein the reference sample is a sample taken from the patient one month, two months, three months, six months, or one year prior to administration of the therapy.

31. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the efficacy of the cancer therapy is tested at any point following the administration of one or more doses of cancer therapy.

32. The method of claim 31, wherein the efficacy of the cancer therapy is tested at intervals of at least 1 week following the administration of one or more doses of cancer therapy.

33. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the reference sample is a sample from a patient in remission from the same cancer.

34. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the predetermined reference range is based on a population of patients in remission from the same cancer.

35. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the reference sample is a sample from a patient who has not been diagnosed with cancer.

36. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the predetermined reference range is based on a population of patients who have not been diagnosed with cancer.

37. A method for monitoring cancer stem cells in a patient diagnosed with cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells from the patient, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is measured in a sample from the patient.

38. The method of claim 37, wherein the sample obtained from the patient is a biological fluid, a bone marrow biopsy, a tumor or a normal tissue biopsy.

39. The method of claim 37, wherein the sample has been subjected to one or more pretreatment steps.

40. The method of claim 35, wherein the biological fluid is blood, serum, urine, or interstitial fluid.

41. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by using an immunoassay.

42. The method of claim 41, wherein the immunoassay is selected from the group consisting of western blots, immunohistochemistry, radioimmunoassays, ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay), “sandwich” immunoassays, immunoprecipitation assays, precipitin reactions, gel diffusion precipitin reactions, immunodiffusion assays, agglutination assays, complement-fixation assays, immunoradiometric assays, fluorescent immunoassays, immunofluorescence, protein A immunoassays, flow cytometry and FACS analysis.

43. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using a flow cytometer.

44. The method of claim 43, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined with one or more antibodies that bind cell surface markers.

45. The method of claim 43, wherein the cancer stem cells are contacted with one or more dyes prior to detection in the flow cytometer.

46. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by immunohistochemistry.

47. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using a sphere forming assay.

48. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using a cobblestone assay.

49. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by culturing the sample obtained from the patient, or a portion thereof, and quantitating the cells in an in vitro assay.

50. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined by using an immunocompromised mouse in vivo engraftment assay.

51. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells is determined using in vivo imaging.

52. A method for monitoring cancer stem cells in or from a patient diagnosed with cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells from the patient, wherein an in vivo assay is used that uses an imaging agent.

53. The method of claim 52, wherein the imaging agent is an antibody or antibody fragment that binds to a cancer stem cell, which antibody is attached to a diagnostic moiety including fluorescent tag, a radionuclide, heavy metal or photon emitter.

54. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the patient is being treated for a cancer selected from the group consisting of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), breast cancer, brain cancer, acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), lymphoma, melanoma, ependymoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), hairy cell leukemia, and stomach cancer.

55. The method of claim 25 or 26, wherein the cancer therapy is small molecule therapy, hormonal therapy, epigenetic therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, protein therapy, biological therapy, surgical therapy, differentiation therapy, anti-angiogenesis therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of the foregoing.

56. A therapeutically effective regimen for treating cancer in a patient in need thereof comprising administering to the patient an agent in a therapeutically effective amount to reduce the cancer stem cell population in the patient as demonstrated by monitoring the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient during the course of the therapeutically effective regimen.

57. A kit for monitoring cancer stem cells comprising an agent that specifically binds to a cancer stem cell.

58. The kit of claim 57, wherein the agent is an antibody.

59. The kit of claim 57, wherein the agent is a nucleic acid.

60. A method for monitoring cancer stem cells in a patient undergoing treatment for cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample obtained from the patient.

61. A method of assaying or screening a therapy for anti-cancer stem cell activity involving i) administration of the therapy to a human with cancer; ii) monitoring cancer stem cells in, or from, the human prior to, during, and/or following therapy, and iii) determining whether the therapy resulted in a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells.

Description:

This application claims and is entitled to priority benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/843,359, filed Sep. 7, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

1. FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to methods for monitoring the amount of cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following cancer treatment of a patient. In particular, the methods provide measuring the amount of cancer stem cells i) in a sample obtained from a patient and/or ii) in a patient via in vivo imaging, at different time points before, during and/or after a treatment regimen for cancer. The change in amount of cancer stem cells over time allows the physician to judge the effectiveness of the treatment regimen and then to decide to continue, alter, or halt the treatment regimen if need be. The present invention also provides kits for monitoring cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following cancer treatment of a patient.

2. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

2.1 Cancer Therapy

Cancer is one of the most significant health conditions. The American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts and Figures, 2003, predicts over 1.3 million Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis this year. In the United States, cancer is second only to heart disease in mortality accounting for one of four deaths. In 2002, the National Institutes of Health estimated total costs of cancer totaled $171.6 billion, with $61 billion in direct expenditures. The incidence of cancer is widely expected to increase as the US population ages, further augmenting the impact of this condition. The current treatment regimens for cancer, established in the 1970s and 1980s, have not changed dramatically. These treatments, which include chemotherapy, radiation and other modalities including newer targeted therapies, have shown limited overall survival benefit when utilized in most advanced stage common cancers since, among other things, these therapies primarily target tumor bulk rather than cancer stem cells.

More specifically, conventional cancer diagnosis and therapies to date have attempted to selectively detect and eradicate neoplastic cells that are largely fast-growing (i.e., cells that form the tumor bulk). Standard oncology regimens have often been largely designed to administer the highest dose of irradiation or a chemotherapeutic agent without undue toxicity, i.e., often referred to as the “maximum tolerated dose” (MTD) or “no observed adverse effect level” (NOAEL). Many conventional cancer chemotherapies (e.g., alkylating agents such as cyclophosphamide, antimetabolites such as 5-Fluorouracil, plant alkaloids such as vincristine) and conventional irradiation therapies exert their toxic effects on cancer cells largely by interfering with cellular mechanisms involved in cell growth and DNA replication. Chemotherapy protocols also often involve administration of a combination of chemotherapeutic agents in an attempt to increase the efficacy of treatment. Despite the availability of a large variety of chemotherapeutic agents, these therapies have many drawbacks (see, e.g., Stockdale, 1998, “Principles Of Cancer Patient Management” in Scientific American Medicine, vol. 3, Rubenstein and Federman, eds., ch. 12, sect. X). For example, chemotherapeutic agents are notoriously toxic due to non-specific side effects on fast-growing cells whether normal or malignant; e.g. chemotherapeutic agents cause significant, and often dangerous, side effects, including bone marrow depression, immunosuppression, gastrointestinal distress, etc.

Other types of traditional cancer therapies include surgery, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, epigenetic therapy, anti-angiogenesis therapy, targeted therapy (e.g. therapy directed to a cancer target such as Gleevec® and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors, Velcade®, Sutent®, et al.), and radiation treatment to eradicate neoplastic cells in a patient (see, e.g., Stockdale, 1998, “Principles of Cancer Patient Management,” in Scientific American: Medicine, vol. 3, Rubenstein and Federman, eds., ch. 12, sect. IV). All of these approaches can pose significant drawbacks for the patient including a lack of efficacy (in terms of long-term outcome (e.g. due to failure to target cancer stem cells) and toxicity (e.g. due to non-specific effects on normal tissues)). Accordingly, new therapies and/or regimens for improving the long-term prospect of cancer patients are needed.

2.2 Cancer Stem Cells

Cancer stem cells comprise a unique subpopulation (often 0.1-10% or so) of a tumor that, relative to the remaining 90% or so of the tumor (i.e., the tumor bulk), are more tumorigenic, relatively more slow-growing or quiescent, and often relatively more chemoresistant than the tumor bulk. Given that conventional therapies and regimens have, in large part, been designed to attack rapidly proliferating cells (i.e. those cancer cells that comprise the tumor bulk), cancer stem cells which are often slow-growing may be relatively more resistant than faster growing tumor bulk to conventional therapies and regimens. Cancer stem cells can express other features which make them relatively chemoresistant such as multi-drug resistance and anti-apoptotic pathways. The aforementioned would constitute a key reason for the failure of standard oncology treatment regimens to ensure long-term benefit in most patients with advanced stage cancers—i.e. the failure to adequately target and eradicate cancer stem cells. In some instances, a cancer stem cell(s) is the founder cell of a tumor (i.e., it is the progenitor of the cancer cells that comprise the tumor bulk).

Cancer stem cells have been identified in a large variety of cancer types. For instance, Bonnet et al., using flow cytometry were able to isolate the leukemia cells bearing the specific phenotype CD34+ CD38−, and subsequently demonstrate that it is these cells (comprising <1% of a given leukemia), unlike the remaining 99+% of the leukemia bulk, that are able to recapitulate the leukemia from whenst it was derived when transferred into immunodeficient mice. See, e.g., “Human acute myeloid leukemia is organized as a hierarchy that originates from a primitive hematopoietic cell,” Nat Med 3:730-737 (1997). That is, these cancer stem cells were found as <1 in 10,000 leukemia cells yet this low frequency population was able to initiate and serially transfer a human leukemia into severe combined immunodeficiency/non-obese diabetic (NOD/SCID) mice with the same histologic phenotype as in the original tumor.

Cox et al. identified small subfractions of human acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells which had the phenotypes CD34+/CD10 and CD34+/CD19, and were capable of engrafting ALL tumors in immunocompromised mice—i.e. the cancer stem cells. In contrast, no engraftment of the mice was observed using the ALL bulk, despite, in some cases, injecting 10-fold more cells. See Cox et al., “Characterization of acute lymphoblastic leukemia progenitor cells,” Blood 104(19): 2919-2925 (2004).

Multiple myeloma was found to contain small subpopulations of cells that were CD138− and, relative to the large bulk population of CD138+ myeloma cells, had greater clonogenic and tumorigenic potential. See Matsui et al., “Characterization of clonogenic multiple myeloma cells,” Blood 103(6): 2332. The authors concluded that the CD138− subpopulation of multiple myeloma was the cancer stem cell population.

Kondo et al. isolated a small population of cells from a C6-glioma cell line, which was identified as the cancer stem cell population by virtue of its ability to self-renew and recapitulate gliomas in immunocompromised mice. See Kondo et al., “Persistence of a small population of cancer stem-like cells in the C6 glioma cell line,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:781-786 (2004). In this study, Kondo et al. determined that cancer cell lines contain a population of cancer stem cells that confer the ability of the line to engraft immunodeficient mice.

Breast cancers were shown to contain a small population of cells with stem cell characteristics (bearing surface markers CD44+CD24low lin−). See Al-Hajj et al., “Prospective identification of tumorigenic breast cancer cells,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100:3983-3988 (2003). As few as 200 of these cells, corresponding to 1-10% of the total tumor cell population, are able to form tumors in NOD/SCID mice. In contrast, implantation of 20,000 cells that lacked this phenotype (i.e. the tumor bulk) was unable to re-grow the tumor.

A subpopulation of cells derived from human prostate tumors was found to self-renew and to recapitulate the phenotype of the prostate tumor from which they were derived thereby constituting the prostate cancer stem cell population. See Collins et al., “Prospective Identification of Tumorigenic Prostate Cancer Stem Cells,” Cancer Res 65(23):10946-10951 (2005).

Fang et al. isolated a subpopulation of cells from melanoma with cancer stem cell properties. In particular, this subpopulation of cells could differentiate and self-renew. In culture, the subpopulation formed spheres whereas the more differentiated cell fraction from the lesions were more adherent. Moreover, the subpopulation containing sphere-like cells were more tumorigenic than the adherent cells when grafted into mice. See Fang et al., “A Tumorigenic Subpopulation with Stem Cell Properties in Melanomas,” Cancer Res 65(20): 9328-9337 (2005).

Singh et al. identified brain tumor stem cells. When isolated and transplanted into nude mice, the CD133+ cancer stem cells, unlike the CD133− tumor bulk cells, form tumors that can then be serially transplanted. See Singh et al., “Identification of human brain tumor initiating cells,” Nature 432:396-401 (2004); Singh et al., “Cancer stem cells in nervous system tumors,” Oncogene 23:7267-7273 (2004); Singh et al., “Identification of a cancer stem cell in human brain tumors,” Cancer Res. 63:5821-5828 (2003).

Since conventional cancer therapies target rapidly proliferating cells (i.e., cells that form the tumor bulk) these treatments are believed to be relatively ineffective at targeting and impairing cancer stem cells. In fact, cancer stem cells, including leukemia stem cells, have indeed been shown to be relatively resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic therapies (e.g. Ara-C, daunorubicin) as well as newer targeted therapies (e.g. Gleevec®, Velcade®). Examples of cancer stem cells from various tumors that are resistant to chemotherapy, and the mechanism by which they are resistant, are described in Table 1 below.

TABLE 1
CSC TypeResistanceMechanismReference
AMLAra-CQuiescenceGuzman. Blood '01
AMLDaunorubicinDrug Efflux,Costello. Cancer Res
Anti-apoptosis'00
AMLDaunorubicin,Drug EffluxWulf. Blood '01
mitoxantrone
AMLQuiescenceGuan. Blood '03
AML, MDSAnti-apoptosisSuarez. Clin Cancer
Res '04
CMLQuiescenceHolyoake. Blood '99
CMLGleevec ®QuiescenceGraham. Blood '02
MyelomaVelcade ®Matsui. ASH 04

For example, leukemic stem cells are relatively slow-growing or quiescent, express multi-drug resistance genes, and utilize other anti-apoptotic mechanisms—features which contribute to their chemoresistance. See Jordan et al., “Targeting the most critical cells: approaching leukemia therapy as a problem in stem cell biology”, Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2: 224-225 (2005). Further, cancer stem cells by virtue of their chemoresistance may contribute to treatment failure, and may also persist in a patient after clinical remission and these remaining cancer stem cells may therefore contribute to relapse at a later date. See Behbood et al., “Will cancer stem cells provide new therapeutic targets?” Carcinogenesis 26(4): 703-711 (2004). Therefore, targeting cancer stem cells is expected to provide for improved long-term outcomes for cancer patients. Accordingly, new therapeutic agents and/or regimens designed to target cancer stem cells are needed to reach this goal.

3. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a method for monitoring the cancer stem cell population in a patient prior to, during, and/or following treatment for cancer comprising determining the amount of cancer stem cells i) in a sample obtained from the patient and/or ii) within a patient via in vivo imaging. In certain aspects of this embodiment, the method can further comprise comparing the amount of cancer stem cells within the patient or in the sample obtained from the patient to the amount of cancer stem cells in a reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, wherein a stabilization or a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient or patient sample relative to the reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, indicates that the cancer therapy is effective; whereas, an increase in the amount of cancer stem cells in the patient or patient sample relative to the reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, indicates that the cancer therapy is ineffective. In different aspects of this embodiment, the reference sample is a sample obtained from the patient from an earlier time (e.g. prior to undergoing cancer therapy or prior to the last treatment) or the reference sample is a sample obtained from, or within, a second patient having the same type of cancer that is in remission, or the reference sample is a sample obtained from, or within, a healthy person with no detectable cancer.

Various methods known in the art can be used to detect and determine the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample, for example, using an immunoassay. According to the present invention, immunoassays include, but are not limited to, western blots, immunohistochemistry, radioimmunoassays, ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay), “sandwich” immunoassays, immunoprecipitation assays, precipitin reactions, gel diffusion precipitin reactions, immunodiffusion assays, agglutination assays, complement-fixation assays, immunoradiometric assays, fluorescent immunoassays, immunofluorescence, protein A immunoassays, flow cytometry, or FACS analysis.

In certain embodiments, the cancer stem cells can be detected and quantitated using a flow cytometer. In a specific aspect, the cancer stem cells are bound with one or more labeled antibodies specific for one or more cell surface markers prior to detection in the flow cytometer. In yet another specific aspect, the cancer stem cells are contacted with one or more dyes prior to detection in the flow cytometer. Another method useful in detecting and determining the amount of cancer stem cells is immunohistochemistry.

Another method useful in detecting and determining the amount of cancer stem cells involves utilizing the ability of cancer stem cells to form spheres as a readout of the presence and quantity of cancer stem cells in a sample. Yet another method is the cobblestone assay wherein cancer stem cells form cobblestone areas (CAs) as a readout of the presence and quantity of cancer stem cells in a sample. Other methods for assaying for cancer stem cells in a specimen include culturing the sample obtained from the patient, or a portion thereof, and quantitating the cancer stem cells by virtue of their ability to form colonies and/or be perpetuated in certain in vitro assays. Yet another method is an in vivo engraftment model wherein cancer stem cells can be assayed for and quantitated by virtue of their ability to form tumors in immunocompromised mice.

In a specific aspect of these embodiments, the sample obtained from the patient can be divided and only a portion is used to determine the amount of cancer stem cells. Further, the sample, or a portion thereof, can be stored under conditions to maintain the cancer stem cells. Further, the sample can be subjected to one or more pretreatment steps prior to determining the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample. Exemplary pretreatment steps include, but are not limited to centrifugation, filtration, precipitation, dialysis, and chromatography.

In certain embodiments of the invention, the sample obtained from the patient is a biological fluid, which includes but is not limited to blood, bone marrow, serum, urine, or interstitial fluid. In other embodiments, the sample obtained from the patient is a biopsy of a tumor or a normal tissue.

According to the invention, the patient is being treated for a cancer, including but not limited to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), breast cancer, brain cancer, acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), lymphoma, melanoma, ependymoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), hairy cell leukemia, and stomach cancer.

Further, according to the methods of the invention, the cancer therapy being administered to the patient can include but is not limited to chemotherapy, small molecule therapy, radioimmunotherapy, toxin therapy, prodrug-activating enzyme therapy, biologic therapy, antibody therapy, surgery, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, anti-angiogenic therapy, targeted therapy, protein therapy, epigenetic therapy, demethylation therapy, histone deacetylase inhibitor therapy, differentiation therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the foregoing.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a method for monitoring the efficacy of a cancer therapy in a patient with cancer is provided, the method comprising: (a) determining the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample from the patient prior to, during, and/or following the administration of the cancer therapy; and (b) comparing the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample from the patient to the amount of cancer stem cells in a reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, wherein the cancer therapy is efficacious if there is a stabilization or a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample from the patient relative to the amount in the reference sample or the predetermined reference range; whereas, an increase in the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample relative to the reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, indicates that the cancer therapy is ineffective.

In certain aspects of this embodiment, the reference sample is a sample taken from the patient prior to the administration of cancer therapy or is a sample taken from the patient one week, two weeks, one month, two months, three months, six months, or one year prior to administration of the therapy. In other embodiments, the reference sample is a sample taken from the patient prior to, during, or following the administration of cancer therapy. For example, the reference sample may be taken from the patient one week, one month, two months, three months, six months, or one year prior to, during, and/or following administration of the therapy. In other aspects, the reference sample can be a sample from a patient or a population of patients in remission from the same cancer or a sample from a healthy patient with no detectable cancer or a population of healthy patients with no detectable cancer.

In other aspects of this embodiment, the efficacy of the cancer therapy can be tested at any point following the administration of one or more rounds of cancer therapy, including testing at one week, two week, three week, four week, five week, six week, seven week, eight week, one month, two month, three month, four month, five month, six month, seven month, eight month, one year, two year, three year, four year, five year, six year, seven year, eight year, nine year, or ten year intervals following the administration of one or more rounds of the cancer therapy.

In other embodiments of the invention, where the cancer stem cell population in the patient sample is compared with a predetermined reference range, the predetermined reference range can be based on i) the amount of cancer stem cells obtained from a sample obtained from a population(s) of patients suffering from the same type of cancer as the patient undergoing the therapy, or ii) the amount of stem cells from a sample obtained from a population(s) of patients without cancer.

In another embodiment, the present invention is directed to a method for determining the efficacy of a cancer therapy, which method comprises administering a cancer therapy to a patient in need of cancer therapy and determining the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample obtained from the patient after administration of the cancer therapy, and comparing the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample obtained from the patient to the amount of cancer stem cells in a reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, wherein a stabilization or a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample relative to the reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, indicates that the cancer therapy is effective; whereas, an increase in the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample relative to the reference sample, or to a predetermined reference range, indicates that the cancer therapy is ineffective

In certain embodiments of the present invention, if a reduction in the cancer stem cell population is determined to be inadequate upon comparing the cancer stem cell population in the sample obtained from the patient undergoing the cancer therapy with the reference sample, then a medical practitioner has a number of options to adjust the therapy. For example, the medical practitioner can then increase the dosage of the compound, the frequency of administration, the duration of administration, or any combination thereof. In a specific embodiment, after the determination is made, an additional cancer therapy can be administered to the patient either in place of the first therapy or in combination with the first therapy.

In other certain embodiments, if the reduction in the cancer stem cell population is determined to be acceptable upon comparing the cancer stem cell population in the sample obtained from the patient undergoing the cancer therapy with the reference sample, then the medical practitioner may elect not to adjust the cancer therapy. For example, the medical practitioner may elect not to increase the dosage of the compound or composition of the particular therapy being administered, the frequency of the administration, the duration of administration, or any combination thereof. Further, the medical practitioner may elect to add additional therapies or combine therapies.

An alternative embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method for determining the potential efficacy of a cancer therapy, which method comprises contacting in vitro (or ex vivo) a sample obtained from a patient suffering from cancer with a potential anti-cancer therapeutic compound, and determining the amount of cancer stem cells in the contacted sample, wherein a reduction or stabilization in the amount of cancer stem cells in the contacted sample as compared to a reference sample, or to a predetermined range (including the untreated sample itself as a comparator control), indicates that the cancer therapy is efficacious for that cancer. In another embodiment, the reference sample is the patient sample that has not been contacted with the anti-therapeutic compound but has instead been contacted with a control, such as a buffer.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method to treat cancer comprising: i) determining that a cancer therapy is effective by virtue of its ability to decrease cancer stem cells as determined by the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and ii) administering the therapy to a human with cancer. In another embodiment, the present invention provides a method to treat cancer comprising: i) determining that a cancer therapy is effective by virtue of its ability to decrease cancer stem cells as determined by the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and ii) administering the therapy to one or more humans with cancer.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method to treat cancer comprising: i) administering to a human with cancer a cancer therapy, and ii) determining the amount of cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following therapy through the monitoring of cancer stem cells. In certain embodiments, the therapy is continued, altered, or halted based on such monitoring. In another embodiment, the prevent invention provides a method to treat cancer comprising i) administering to a human with cancer a cancer therapy, ii) determining the amount of cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following therapy through the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and iii) continuing, altering, or halting therapy based on such monitoring. In another embodiment, the prevention invention provides a method to treat cancer comprising: i) administering to a human with cancer a cancer therapy, and ii) detecting a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells through the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and iii) continuing, altering, or halting therapy based on such monitoring. In yet another embodiment, the present invention provides a method to treat cancer comprising administering to a human with cancer a therapy that decreases the amount of cancer stem cells as determined by the monitoring of cancer stem cells.

3.1 DEFINITIONS

As used herein, the terms “about” or “approximately”, unless otherwise indicated, refer to a value that is no more than 10% above or below the value being modified by the term.

As used herein, the term “administer continuously,” in the context of administration of a therapy to a subject, refers to the administration of a therapy to a subject at a frequency that is expected to maintain a specific plasma concentration of the therapy. For instance, in some embodiments of the therapies that are administered continuously, the administration to the subject is at a frequency that is expected to maintain less than a 50% change in the plasma concentration of the therapy, e.g., a 20-50% change, a 10-30% change, a 5-25% change, or a 1-20% change in plasma concentration of the therapy.

As used herein, the term “agent” refers to any molecule, compound, and/or substance for use in the prevention, treatment, management and/or diagnosis of cancer.

As used herein, the term “amount,” as used in the context of the amount of a particular cell population or cells, refers to the frequency, quantity, percentage, relative amount, or number of the particular cell population or cells.

As used herein, the term “cancer cells” refer to cells that acquire a characteristic set of functional capabilities during their development, including the ability to evade apoptosis, self-sufficiency in growth signals, insensitivity to anti-growth signals, tissue invasion/metastasis, significant growth potential, and/or sustained angiogenesis. The term “cancer cell” is meant to encompass both pre-malignant and malignant cancer cells.

As used herein, the term “cancer stem cell(s)” refers to a cell that can be a progenitor of a highly proliferative cancer cell. A cancer stem cell has the ability to re-grow a tumor as demonstrated by its ability to form tumors in immunocompromised mice, and typically to form tumors upon subsequent serial transplantation in immunocompromised mice. Cancer stem cells are also typically slow-growing relative to the bulk of a tumor; that is, cancer stem cells are generally quiescent. In certain embodiments, but not all, the cancer stem cell may represent approximately 0.1 to 10% of a tumor.

As used herein, the phrase “diagnostic agent” refers to any molecule, compound, and/or substance that is used for the purpose of diagnosing cancer. Non-limiting examples of diagnostic agents include antibodies, antibody fragments, or other proteins, including those conjugated to a detectable agent. As used herein, the term “detectable agents” refer to any molecule, compound and/or substance that is detectable by any methodology available to one of skill in the art. Non-limiting examples of detectable agents include dyes, gases, metals, or radioisotopes. As used herein, diagnostic agent and “imaging agent” are equivalent terms.

As used herein, the term “effective amount” refers to the amount of a therapy that is sufficient to result in the prevention of the development, recurrence, or onset of cancer and one or more symptoms thereof, to enhance or improve the prophylactic effect(s) of another therapy, reduce the severity, the duration of cancer, ameliorate one or more symptoms of cancer, prevent the advancement of cancer, cause regression of cancer, and/or enhance or improve the therapeutic effect(s) of another therapy. In an embodiment of the invention, the amount of a therapy is effective to achieve one, two, three, or more results following the administration of one, two, three or more therapies: (1) a stabilization, reduction or elimination of the cancer stem cell population; (2) a stabilization, reduction or elimination in the cancer cell population; (3) a stabilization or reduction in the growth of a tumor or neoplasm; (4) an impairment in the formation of a tumor; (5) eradication, removal, or control of primary, regional and/or metastatic cancer; (6) a reduction in mortality; (7) an increase in disease-free, relapse-free, progression-free, and/or overall survival, duration, or rate; (8) an increase in the response rate, the durability of response, or number of patients who respond or are in remission; (9) a decrease in hospitalization rate, (10) a decrease in hospitalization lengths, (11) the size of the tumor is maintained and does not increase or increases by less than 10%, preferably less than 5%, preferably less than 4%, preferably less than 2%, (12) an increase in the number of patients in remission, (13) an increase in the length or duration of remission, (14) a decrease in the recurrence rate of cancer, (15) an increase in the time to recurrence of cancer, and (16) an amelioration of cancer-related symptoms and/or quality of life.

As used herein, the phrase “elderly human” refers to a human between 65 years old or older, preferably 70 years old or older.

As used herein, the phrase “human adult” refers to a human 18 years of age or older.

As used herein, the phrase “human child” refers to a human between 24 months of age and 18 years of age.

As used herein, the phrase “human infant” refers to a human less than 24 months of age, preferably less than 12 months of age, less than 6 months of age, less than 3 months of age, less than 2 months of age, or less than 1 month of age.

As used herein, the phrase “human patient” refers to any human, whether elderly, an adult, child or infant.

As used herein, the term “specifically binds to an antigen” and analogous terms refer to peptides, polypeptides, proteins, fusion proteins and antibodies or fragments thereof that specifically bind to an antigen or a fragment and do not specifically bind to other antigens. A peptide, polypeptide, protein, or antibody that specifically binds to an antigen may bind to other peptides, polypeptides, or proteins with lower affinity as determined by, e.g., immunoassays, BIAcore, or other assays known in the art. Antibodies or fragments that specifically bind to an antigen may be cross-reactive with related antigens. Preferably, antibodies or fragments that specifically bind to an antigen do not cross-react with other antigens. An antibody binds specifically to an antigen when it binds to the antigen with higher affinity than to any cross-reactive antigen as determined using experimental techniques, such as radioimmunoassays (RIAs) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). See, e.g., Paul, ed., 1989, Fundamental Immunology, 2nd ed., Raven Press, New York at pages 332-336 for a discussion regarding antibody specificity.

As used herein, the term “in combination” in the context of the administration of a therapy to a subject refers to the use of more than one therapy (e.g., prophylactic and/or therapeutic). The use of the term “in combination” does not restrict the order in which the therapies (e.g., a first and second therapy) are administered to a subject. A therapy can be administered prior to (e.g., 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, 96 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks before), concomitantly with, or subsequent to (e.g., 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, 96 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks after) the administration of a second therapy to a subject which had, has, or is susceptible to cancer. The therapies are administered to a subject in a sequence and within a time interval such that the therapies can act together. In a particular embodiment, the therapies are administered to a subject in a sequence and within a time interval such that they provide an increased benefit than if they were administered otherwise. Any additional therapy can be administered in any order with the other additional therapy.

As used herein, the terms “manage,” “managing,” and “management” in the context of the administration of a therapy to a subject refer to the beneficial effects that a subject derives from a therapy (e.g., a prophylactic or therapeutic agent) or a combination of therapies, while not resulting in a cure of cancer. In certain embodiments, a subject is administered one or more therapies (e.g., one or more prophylactic or therapeutic agents) to “manage” cancer so as to prevent the progression or worsening of the condition.

As used herein, the term “marker” in the context of a cell or tissue (e.g. a normal or cancer cell or tumor) means any antigen, molecule or other chemical or biological entity that is specifically found in or on a tissue that it is desired to identified or identified in or on a particular tissue affected by a disease or disorder. In specific embodiments, the marker is a cell surface antigen that is differentially or preferentially expressed by specific cell types. For example, a leukemia cancer stem cell differentially expresses CD123 relative to a normal hematopoietic stem cell.

As used herein, the term “marker phenotype” in the context of a tissue (e.g., a normal or cancer cell or a tumor cell) means any combination of antigens (e.g., receptors, ligands, and other cell surface markers), molecules, or other chemical or biological entities that are specifically found in or on a tissue that it is desired to identify a particular tissue affected by a disease or disorder. In specific embodiments, the marker phenotype is a cell surface phenotype. In accordance with this embodiment, the cell surface phenotype may be determined by detecting the expression of a combination of cell surface antigens. Non-limiting examples of cell surface phenotypes of cancer stem cells of certain tumor types include CD34+/CD38, CD123+, CD44+/CD24, CD133+, CD34+/CD10/CD19, CD138/CD34/CD19+, CD133+/RC2+, CD44+2β1hi/CD133+, CLL-1, SLAMs, and other cancer stem cell surface phenotypes mentioned herein, as well as those that are known in the art.

As used herein, the phrase “pharmaceutically acceptable” means approved by a regulatory agency of the federal or a state government, or listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, European Pharmacopeia, or other generally recognized pharmacopeia for use in animals, and more particularly, in humans.

As used herein, the term “predetermined reference range” refers to a reference range for the particular biological entity e.g., cancer stem cell, for a subject or a population of subjects. Each laboratory may establish its own reference range for each particular assay, or a standard reference range for each assay may be made available and used locally, regionally, nationally, or worldwide or may be patient-specific. In one specific embodiment, the term refers to a reference range for the amount of cancer stem cells in a patient (e.g., as determined by in vivo imaging) or a specimen from a patient. In another specific embodiment, the term refers to a reference range for the amount of cancer cells in a patient (e.g. as described by in vivo imaging) or a specimen from a patient.

As used herein, the terms “prevent,” “preventing” and “prevention” in the context of the administration of a therapy to a subject refer to the prevention or inhibition of the recurrence, onset, and/or development of a cancer or a symptom thereof in a subject resulting from the administration of a therapy (e.g., a prophylactic or therapeutic agent), or a combination of therapies (e.g., a combination of prophylactic or therapeutic agents). In some embodiments, such terms refer to one, two, three, or more results following the administration of one or more therapies: (1) a stabilization, reduction or elimination of the cancer stem cell population, (2) a stabilization, reduction or elimination in the cancer cell population, (3) an increase in response rate, (4) an increase in the length or duration of remission, (5) a decrease in the recurrence rate of cancer, (6) an increase in the time to recurrence of cancer, (7) an increase in the disease-free, relapse-free, progression-free, and/or overall survival of the patient, and (8) an amelioration of cancer-related symptoms and/or quality of life. In specific embodiments, such terms refer to a stabilization, reduction or elimination of the cancer stem cell population.

As used herein, the term “proliferation based therapy” refers to any molecule, compound, substance, and/or method that differentially impairs, inhibits or kills rapidly proliferating cell populations (e.g., cancer cells) in comparison with cell populations that divide more slowly. Proliferation based therapies may include, but are not limited to those chemotherapeutic and radiation therapies that are typically used in oncology. A proliferation based agent may differentially impair, inhibit or kill rapidly proliferating cells by any mechanism known to one skilled in the art including, but not limited to, disrupting DNA function (including DNA replication), interfering with enzymes involved in DNA repair, intercalating DNA, interfering with RNA transcription or translation, interfering with enzymes involved with DNA replication, interfering with a topoisomerase, such as topoisomerase II, interfering with mitosis, and inhibiting enzymes necessary for the synthesis of proteins needed for cellular replication. Specific examples of proliferation based therapies include, but are not limited to, alkylating agents, nitrosoureas, antimetabolites, antibiotics, procarbazine, hydroxyurea, platinum-based agents, anthracyclines, topoisomerase II inhibitors, spindle poisons, and mitotic inhibitors.

As used herein, the phrase “prophylactic agent” refers to any molecule, compound, and/or substance that is used for the purpose of preventing cancer. Examples of prophylactic agents include, but are not limited to, proteins, immunoglobulins (e.g., multi-specific Igs, single chain Igs, Ig fragments, polyclonal antibodies and their fragments, monoclonal antibodies and their fragments), antibody conjugates or antibody fragment conjugates, peptides (e.g., peptide receptors, selectins), binding proteins, chemospecific agents, chemotoxic agents (e.g., anti-cancer agents), proliferation based therapy, and small molecule drugs.

As used herein, the term “prophylactically effective regimen” refers to an effective regimen for dosing, timing, frequency and duration of the administration of one or more therapies for the prevention of cancer or a symptom thereof. In a specific embodiment, the regimen achieves one, two, three, or more of the following results: (1) a stabilization, reduction or elimination of the cancer stem cell population, (2) a stabilization, reduction or elimination in the cancer cell population, (3) an increase in response rate, (4) an increase in the length or duration of remission, (5) a decrease in the recurrence rate of cancer, (6) an increase in the time to recurrence of cancer, (7) an increase in the disease-free, relapse-free, progression-free, and/or overall survival of the patient, and (8) an amelioration of cancer-related symptoms and/or quality of life.

As used herein, the term “refractory” is most often determined by failure to reach a clinical endpoint, e.g., response, extended duration of response, extended disease free, survival, relapse free survival, progression free survival and overall survival. Another way to define being refractory to a therapy is that a patient has failed to achieve a response to a therapy such that the therapy is determined to not be therapeutically effective.

As used herein, the term “small reduction,” in the context of a particular cell population (e.g., circulating endothelial cells and/or circulating endothelial progenitors) refers to less than a 30% reduction in the cell population (e.g., the circulating endothelial cell population and/or the circulating endothelial progenitor population).

As used herein, the term “stabilizing” and analogous terms, when used in the context of a cancer stem cell population or cancer cell population, refer to the prevention of an increase in the cancer stem cell population or cancer cell population, respectively. In other words, the amount of cancer stem cells or the amount of cancer cells that a cancer is composed of is maintained, and does not increase, or increases by less than 10%, preferably less than 0.5%.

As used herein, the terms “subject” and “patient” are used interchangeably. As used herein, the term “subject” refers to an animal, preferably a mammal such as a non-primate (e.g., cows, pigs, horses, cats, dogs, rats etc.) and a primate (e.g., monkey and human), and most preferably a human. In some embodiments, the subject is a non-human animal such as a farm animal (e.g., a horse, pig, or cow) or a pet (e.g., a dog or cat). In a specific embodiment, the subject is an elderly human. In another embodiment, the subject is a human adult. In another embodiment, the subject is a human child. In yet another embodiment, the subject is a human infant.

As used herein, the term “therapeutic agent” refers to any molecule, compound, and/or substance that is used for the purpose of treating and/or managing a disease or disorder. Examples of therapeutic agents include, but are not limited to, proteins, immunoglobulins (e.g., multi-specific Igs, single chain Igs, Ig fragments, polyclonal antibodies and their fragments, monoclonal antibodies and their fragments), peptides (e.g., peptide receptors, selectins), binding proteins, biologics, chemospecific agents, chemotoxic agents (e.g., anti-cancer agents), proliferation-based therapy, radiation, chemotherapy, anti-angiogenic agents, and small molecule drugs.

As used herein, the term “therapeutically effective regimen” refers to a regimen for dosing, timing, frequency, and duration of the administration of one or more therapies for the treatment and/or management of cancer or a symptom thereof. In a specific embodiment, the regimen achieves one, two, three, or more of the following results: (1) a stabilization, reduction or elimination of the cancer stem cell population; (2) a stabilization, reduction or elimination in the cancer cell population; (3) a stabilization or reduction in the growth of a tumor or neoplasm; (4) an impairment in the formation of a tumor; (5) eradication, removal, or control of primary, regional and/or metastatic cancer; (6) a reduction in mortality; (7) an increase in disease-free, relapse-free, progression-free, and/or overall survival, duration, or rate; (8) an increase in the response rate, the durability of response, or number of patients who respond or are in remission; (9) a decrease in hospitalization rate, (10) a decrease in hospitalization lengths, (11) the size of the tumor is maintained and does not increase or increases by less than 10%, preferably less than 5%, preferably less than 4%, preferably less than 2%, and (12) a increase in the number of patients in remission.

As used herein, the terms “therapies” and “therapy” can refer to any method(s), composition(s), and/or agent(s) that can be used in the prevention, treatment and/or management of a cancer or one or more symptoms thereof. In certain embodiments, the terms “therapy” and “therapies” refer to chemotherapy, small molecule therapy, radioimmunotherapy, toxin therapy, prodrug-activating enzyme therapy, biologic therapy, antibody therapy, surgical therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, anti-angiogenic therapy, targeted therapy, epigenetic therapy, demethylation therapy, histone deacetylase inhibitor therapy, differentiation therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the foregoing and/or other therapies useful in the prevention, management and/or treatment of a cancer or one or more symptoms thereof.

As used herein, the terms “treat,” “treatment,” and “treating” in the context of the administration of a therapy to a subject refer to the reduction or inhibition of the progression and/or duration of cancer, the reduction or amelioration of the severity of cancer, and/or the amelioration of one or more symptoms thereof resulting from the administration of one or more therapies. In specific embodiments, such terms refer to one, two or three or more results following the administration of one, two, three or more therapies: (1) a stabilization, reduction or elimination of the cancer stem cell population; (2) a stabilization, reduction or elimination in the cancer cell population; (3) a stabilization or reduction in the growth of a tumor or neoplasm; (4) an impairment in the formation of a tumor; (5) eradication, removal, or control of primary, regional and/or metastatic cancer; (6) a reduction in mortality; (7) an increase in disease-free, relapse-free, progression-free, and/or overall survival, duration, or rate; (8) an increase in the response rate, the durability of response, or number of patients who respond or are in remission; (9) a decrease in hospitalization rate, (10) a decrease in hospitalization lengths, (11) the size of the tumor is maintained and does not increase or increases by less than 10%, preferably less than 5%, preferably less than 4%, preferably less than 2%, and (12) an increase in the number of patients in remission. In certain embodiments, such terms refer to a stabilization or reduction in the cancer stem cell population. In some embodiments, such terms refer to a stabilization or reduction in the growth of cancer cells. In some embodiments, such terms refer to a stabilization or reduction in the cancer stem cell population and a reduction in the cancer cell population. In some embodiments, such terms refer to a stabilization or reduction in the growth and/or formation of a tumor. In some embodiments, such terms refer to the eradication, removal, or control of primary, regional, or metastatic cancer (e.g., the minimization or delay of the spread of cancer). In some embodiments, such terms refer to a reduction in mortality and/or an increase in survival rate of a patient population. In further embodiments, such terms refer to an increase in the response rate, the durability of response, or number of patients who respond or are in remission. In some embodiments, such terms refer to a decrease in hospitalization rate of a patient population and/or a decrease in hospitalization length for a patient population.

Concentrations, amounts, cell counts, percentages and other numerical values may be presented herein in a range format. It is to be understood that such range format is used merely for convenience and brevity and should be interpreted flexibly to include not only the numerical values explicitly recited as the limits of the range but also to include all the individual numerical values or sub-ranges encompassed within that range as if each numerical value and sub-range is explicitly recited.

4. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to methods for monitoring cancer stem cells in a patient or a sample obtained from a patient prior to, during, and/or following cancer therapy, which methods are useful in determining the efficacy of a cancer therapy or regimen so that a medical practitioner can make a judgement in electing to continue, change or modify the cancer therapy for a given patient. The present invention is also directed to the utilization of a kit(s) to detect and monitor cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following cancer therapy. The present invention is also directed to methods to treat cancer involving i) determining that a cancer therapy is effective by virtue of its ability to decrease cancer stem cells as determined by the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and ii) administering the therapy to a human(s) with cancer. The present invention is also directed to methods to treat cancer involving i) administering to a human with cancer a cancer therapy, ii) determining the amount of cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following therapy through the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and iii) continuing, altering, or halting therapy based on such monitoring. The present invention is also directed toward the assaying for/screening of compounds for anti-cancer stem cell activity involving i) administration of the compound to a human with cancer, ii) monitoring cancer stem cells in or from the human prior to, during, and/or following therapy, and iii) determining whether the therapy resulted in a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells.

A cancer stem cell(s) of the invention has the ability to re-grow a tumor as demonstrated by its ability to form tumors in immunocompromised mice, and typically to form tumors upon subsequent serial transplantation in immunocompromised mice. Cancer stem cells are also typically slow-growing relative to the remaining bulk of a tumor; that is, cancer stem cells are generally quiescent. In certain embodiments, but not all, the cancer stem cell may represent approximately 0.1 to 10% of a tumor. Moreover, a cancer stem cell(s) may have one or more or all of the following characteristics or properties: (i) can harbor the ability to initiate a tumor and/or to perpetuate tumor growth, (ii) can be generally relatively less mutated than the bulk of a tumor (e.g. due to slower growth and thus fewer DNA replication-dependent errors, improved DNA repair, and/or epigenetic/non-mutagenic changes contributing to their malignancy), (iii) can have many features of a normal stem cell(s) (e.g., similar cell surface antigen and/or intracellular expression profile, self-renewal programs, multi-drug resistance, an immature phenotype, etc., characteristic of normal stem cells) and may be derived from a normal stem cell(s), (iv) can be potentially responsive to its microenvironment (e.g., the cancer stem cells may be capable of being induced to differentiate and/or divide asymmetrically), (v) can be the source of metastases, (vi) can be slow-growing or quiescent, (vii) can be symmetrically-dividing, (viii) can be tumorigenic (e.g. as determined by NOD/SCID implantation experiments), (ix) can be relatively resistant to traditional therapies (i.e. chemoresistant), and (x) can comprise a subpopulation of a tumor (e.g. relative to the tumor bulk).

4.1 Methods of Monitoring Cancer Stem Cells

As part of the prophylactically effective and/or therapeutically effective regimens of the invention, the cancer stem cell population can be monitored to assess the efficacy of a therapy as well as to determine prognosis of a subject with cancer or the efficacy of a therapeutically or prophylactically effective regimen. In certain embodiments of the prophylactically effective and/or therapeutically effective therapies or regimens of the invention, the therapies or regimens result in a stabilization or reduction in the cancer stem cell population in the patient. In one embodiment, the subject undergoing the regimen is monitored to assess whether the regimen has resulted in a stabilization or reduction in the cancer stem cell population in the subject.

In some embodiments, the amount of cancer stem cells in a subject is determined using a technique well-known to one of skill in the art or described in Section 4.3 below.

In accordance with the invention, cancer stem cells comprise a unique subpopulation (often 0.1-10% or so) of a tumor that, in contrast to the remaining 90% or so of the tumor (i.e., the tumor bulk), are relatively more tumorigenic and relatively more slow-growing or quiescent. Given that conventional therapies and regimens have, in large part, been designed to attack rapidly proliferating cells (i.e., those cancer cells that comprise the tumor bulk), slower growing cancer stem cells may be relatively more resistant than faster growing tumor bulk to conventional therapies and regimens. This would explain another reason for the failure of standard oncology treatment regimens to ensure long-term benefit in most patients with advanced stage cancers. In a specific embodiment, a cancer stem cell(s) is the founder cell of a tumor (i.e., it is the progenitor of cancer cells). In some embodiments, a cancer stem cell(s) has one, two, three, or more or all of the following characteristics or properties: (i) can harbor the ability to initiate a tumor and/or to perpetuate tumor growth, (ii) can be generally relatively less mutated than the bulk of a tumor (e.g. due to slower growth and thus fewer DNA replication-dependent errors, improved DNA repair, and/or epigenetic/non-mutagenic changes contributing to their malignancy), (iii) can have many features of a normal stem cell(s) (e.g., similar cell surface antigen and/or intracellular expression profile, self-renewal programs, multi-drug resistance, an immature phenotype, etc., characteristic of normal stem cells) and may be derived from a normal stem cell(s), (iv) can be potentially responsive to its microenvironment (e.g., the cancer stem cells may be capable of being induced to differentiate and/or divide asymmetrically), (v) can be the source of metastases, (vi) can be slow-growing or quiescent, (vii) can be symmetrically-dividing, (viii) can be tumorigenic (e.g. as determined by NOD/SCID implantation experiments), (ix) can be relatively resistant to traditional therapies (i.e. chemoresistant), and (x) can comprise a subpopulation of a tumor (e.g. relative to the tumor bulk).

In other embodiments, the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample from a subject is determined/assessed using a technique described herein or well-known to one of skill in the art. Such samples include, but are not limited to, biological samples and samples derived from a biological sample. In certain embodiments, in addition to the biological sample itself or in addition to material derived from the biological sample such as cells, the sample used in the methods of this invention comprises added water, salts, glycerin, glucose, an antimicrobial agent, paraffin, a chemical stabilizing agent, heparin, an anticoagulant, or a buffering agent. In certain embodiments, the biological sample is blood, serum, urine, bone marrow or interstitial fluid. In another embodiment, the sample is a tissue sample. In a particular embodiment, the tissue sample is breast, brain, skin, colon, lung, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, renal, bone or skin tissue. In a specific embodiment, the tissue sample is a biopsy of normal or tumor tissue. The amount of biological sample taken from the subject will vary according to the type of biological sample and the method of detection to be employed. In a particular embodiment, the biological sample is blood, serum, urine, or bone marrow and the amount of blood, serum, urine, or bone marrow taken from the subject is 0.1 ml, 0.5 ml, 1 ml, 5 ml, 8 ml, 10 ml or more. In another embodiment, the biological sample is a tissue and the amount of tissue taken from the subject is less than 10 milligrams, less than 25 milligrams, less than 50 milligrams, less than 1 gram, less than 5 grams, less than 10 grams, less than 50 grams, or less than 100 grams.

In accordance with the methods of the invention, a sample derived from a biological sample is one in which the biological sample has been subjected to one or more pretreatment steps prior to the detection and/or measurement of the cancer stem cell population in the sample. In certain embodiments, a biological fluid is pretreated by centrifugation, filtration, precipitation, dialysis, or chromatography, or by a combination of such pretreatment steps. In other embodiments, a tissue sample is pretreated by freezing, chemical fixation, paraffin embedding, dehydration, permeabilization, or homogenization followed by centrifugation, filtration, precipitation, dialysis, or chromatography, or by a combination of such pretreatment steps. In certain embodiments, the sample is pretreated by removing cells other than stem cells or cancer stem cells from the sample, or removing debris from the sample prior to the determination of the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample according to the methods of the invention.

The samples for use in the methods of this invention may be taken from any animal subject, preferably mammal, most preferably a human. The subject from which a sample is obtained and utilized in accordance with the methods of this invention includes, without limitation, an asymptomatic subject, a subject manifesting or exhibiting 1, 2, 3, 4 or more symptoms of cancer, a subject clinically diagnosed as having cancer, a subject predisposed to cancer, a subject suspected of having cancer, a subject undergoing therapy for cancer, a subject that has been medically determined to be free of cancer (e.g., following therapy for the cancer), a subject that is managing cancer, or a subject that has not been diagnosed with cancer. In certain embodiments, the term “has no detectable cancer,” as used herein, refers to a subject or subjects in which there is no detectable cancer by conventional methods, e.g., MRI. In other embodiments, the term refers to a subject or subjects free from any disorder.

In certain embodiments, the amount of cancer stem cells in a subject or a sample from a subject is/are assessed prior to therapy or regimen (e.g. at baseline) or at least 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 30, 60, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, or >12 months after the subject begins receiving the therapy or regimen. In certain embodiments, the amount of cancer stem cells is assessed after a certain number of doses (e.g., after 2, 5, 10, 20, 30 or more doses of a therapy). In other embodiments, the amount of cancer stem cells is assessed after 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, I year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years or more after receiving one or more therapies.

In certain embodiments, a positive or negative control sample is a sample that is obtained or derived from a corresponding tissue or biological fluid or tumor as the sample to be analyzed in accordance with the methods of the invention. This sample may come from the same patient or different persons and at the same or different time points.

For clarity of disclosure, and not by way of limitation, the following pertains to analysis of a blood sample from a patient. However, as one skilled in the art will appreciate, the assays and techniques described herein can be applied to other types of patient samples, including a body fluid (e.g. blood, bone marrow, plasma, urine, bile, ascitic fluid), a tissue sample suspected of containing material derived from a cancer (e.g. a biopsy) or homogenate thereof. The amount of sample to be collected will vary with the particular type of sample and method of determining the amount of cancer stem cells used and will be an amount sufficient to detect the cancer stem cells in the sample.

A sample of blood may be obtained from a patient having different developmental or disease stages. Blood may be drawn from a subject from any part of the body (e.g., a finger, a hand, a wrist, an arm, a leg, a foot, an ankle, a stomach, and a neck) using techniques known to one of skill in the art, in particular methods of phlebotomy known in the art. In a specific embodiment, venous blood is obtained from a subject and utilized in accordance with the methods of the invention. In another embodiment, arterial blood is obtained and utilized in accordance with the methods of the invention. The composition of venous blood varies according to the metabolic needs of the area of the body it is servicing. In contrast, the composition of arterial blood is consistent throughout the body. For routine blood tests, venous blood is generally used.

The amount of blood collected will vary depending upon the site of collection, the amount required for a method of the invention, and the comfort of the subject. In some embodiments, any amount of blood is collected that is sufficient to detect the amount of cancer stem cells. In a specific embodiment, 1 cc or more of blood is collected from a subject.

The amount of cancer stem cells in a sample can be expressed as the percentage of, e.g., overall cells, overall cancer cells or overall stem cells in the sample, or quantitated relative to area (e.g. cells per high power field), or volume (e.g. cells per ml), or architecture (e.g. cells per bone spicule in a bone marrow specimen).

In some embodiments, the sample may be a blood sample, bone marrow sample, or a tissue/tumor biopsy sample, wherein the amount of cancer stem cells per unit of volume (e.g., 1 mL) or other measured unit (e.g., per unit field in the case of a histological analysis) is quantitated. In certain embodiments, the cancer stem cell population is determined as a portion (e.g., a percentage) of the cancerous cells present in the blood or bone marrow or tissue/tumor biopsy sample or as a subset of the cancerous cells present in the blood or bone marrow or tissue/tumor biopsy sample. The cancer stem cell population, in other embodiments, can be determined as a portion (e.g., percentage) of the total cells. In yet other embodiments, the cancer stem cell population is determined as a portion (e.g., a percentage) of the total stem cells present in the blood sample.

In other embodiments, the sample from the patient is a tissue sample (e.g., a biopsy from a subject with or suspected of having cancerous tissue), where the amount of cancer stem cells can be measured, for example, by immunohistochemistry or flow cytometry, or on the basis of the amount of cancer stem cells per unit area, volume, or weight of the tissue. In certain embodiments, the cancer stem cell population (the amount of cancer stem cells) is determined as a portion (e.g., a percentage) of the cancerous cells present in the tissue sample or as a subset of the cancerous cells present in the tissue sample. In yet other embodiments, the cancerous stem cell population (the amount of cancer stem cells) is determined as a portion (e.g., a percentage) of the overall cells or stem cell cells in the tissue sample.

The amount of cancer stem cells in a test sample can be compared with the amount of cancer stem cells in reference sample(s) to assess the efficacy of the regimen. In one embodiment, the reference sample is a sample obtained from the subject undergoing therapy at an earlier time point (e.g., prior to receiving the regimen as a baseline reference sample, or at an earlier time point while receiving the therapy). In this embodiment, the therapy desirably results in a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells in the test sample as compared with the reference sample. In another embodiment, the reference sample is obtained from a healthy subject who has no detectable cancer, or from a patient that is in remission for the same type of cancer. In this embodiment, the therapy desirably results in the test sample having an equal amount of cancer stem cells, or less than the amount of cancer stem cells than are detected in the reference sample.

In other embodiments, the cancer stem cell population in a test sample can be compared with a predetermined reference range and/or a previously detected amount of cancer stem cells determined for the subject to gauge the subject's response to the regimens described herein. In a specific embodiment, a stabilization or reduction in the amount of cancer stem cells relative to a predetermined reference range and/or earlier (previously detected) cancer stem cell amount determined for the subject indicates an improvement in the subject's prognosis or a positive response to the regimen, whereas an increase relative to the predetermined reference range and/or earlier cancer stem cell amount indicates the same or worse prognosis, and/or a failure to respond to the regimen. The cancer stem cell amount can be used in conjunction with other measures to assess the prognosis of the subject and/or the efficacy of the regimen. In a specific embodiment, the predetermined reference range is based on the amount of cancer stem cells obtained from a patient or population(s) of patients suffering from the same type of cancer as the patient undergoing the therapy.

Generally, since stem cell antigens can be present on both cancer stem cells and normal stem cells, a sample from the cancer-afflicted patient will have a higher stem cell count than a sample from a healthy subject who has no detectable cancer, due to the presence of the cancer stem cells. The therapy will desirably result in a cancer stem cell count for the test sample (e.g., the sample from the patient undergoing therapy) that decreases and becomes increasingly closer to the stem cell count in a reference sample that is sample from a healthy subject who has no detectable cancer.

If the reduction in amount of cancer stem cells is determined to be inadequate upon comparing the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample from the subject undergoing the regimen with the reference sample, then the medical practitioner has a number of possible options to adjust the regimen. For instance, the medical practitioner can then increase either the dosage or intensity of the therapy administered, the frequency of the administration, the duration of administration, combine the therapy with another therapy(ies), change the management altogether including halting therapy, or any combination thereof.

In certain embodiments, the dosage, frequency and/or duration of administration of a therapy is modified as a result of the change in the amount of cancer stem cells detected in or from the treated patient. For example, if a subject receiving therapy for leukemia has a cancer stem cell measurement of 2.5% of his tumor prior to therapy and 5% after 6 weeks of therapy, then the therapy or regimen may be altered or stopped because the increase in the percentage of cancer stem cells indicates that the therapy or regimen is not optimal. Alternatively, if another subject with leukemia has a cancer stem cell measurement of 2.5% of his tumor prior to therapy and 1% after 6 weeks of therapy, then the therapy or regimen may be continued because the decrease in the percentage of cancer stem cells indicates that the therapy or regimen is effective.

The amount of cancer stem cells can be monitored/assessed using standard techniques known to one of skill in the art. Cancer stem cells can be monitored by, e.g., obtaining a sample, such as a tissue/tumor sample, blood sample or a bone marrow sample, from a subject and detecting cancer stem cells in the sample. The amount of cancer stem cells in a sample (which may be expressed as percentages of, e.g., overall cells or overall cancer cells) can be assessed by detecting the expression of antigens on cancer stem cells. Techniques known to those skilled in the art can be used for measuring these activities. Antigen expression can be assayed, for example, by immunoassays including, but not limited to, western blots, immunohistochemistry, radioimmunoassays, ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay), “sandwich” immunoassays, immunoprecipitation assays, precipitin reactions, gel diffusion precipitin reactions, immunodiffusion assays, agglutination assays, complement-fixation assays, immunoradiometric assays, fluorescent immunoassays, immunofluorescence, protein A immunoassays, flow cytometry, and FACS analysis. In such circumstances, the amount of cancer stem cells in a test sample from a subject may be determined by comparing the results to the amount of stem cells in a reference sample (e.g., a sample from a subject who has no detectable cancer) or to a predetermined reference range, or to the patient him/herself at an earlier time point (e.g. prior to, or during therapy).

In a specific embodiment, the cancer stem cell population in a sample from a patient is determined by flow cytometry. This method exploits the differential expression of certain surface markers on cancer stem cells relative to the bulk of the tumor. Labeled antibodies (e.g., fluorescent antibodies) can be used to react with the cells in the sample, and the cells are subsequently sorted by FACS methods. In some embodiments, a combination of cell surface markers are utilized in order to determine the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample. For example, both positive and negative cell sorting may be used to assess the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample. Cancer stem cells for specific tumor types can be determined by assessing the expression of markers on cancer stem cells. In certain embodiments, the tumors harbor cancer stem cells and their associated markers as set forth in Table 2 below, which provides a non-limiting list of cancer stem cell phenotypes associated with various types of cancer.

TABLE 2
TumorCancer Stem Cell Phenotype
Leukemia (AML)CD34+/CD38−
BreastCD44+/CD24−
BrainCD133+
Leukemia (ALL)CD34+/CD10−/CD19−
OvarianCD44+/CD24−
Multiple MyelomaCD138−/CD34−/CD19+
Chronic myelogenous leukemiaCD34+/CD38−
MelanomaCD20+
EpendymomaCD133+/RC2+
ProstateCD44+/α2β1hi/CD133+

Additional cancer stem cell markers include, but are not limited to, CD123, CLL-1, combinations of SLAMs (signaling lymphocyte activation molecule family receptors; see Yilmaz et al., “SLAM family markers are conserved among hematopoietic stem cells from old and reconstituted mice and markedly increase their purity,” Hematopoiesis 107: 924-930 (2006)), such as CD150, CD244, and CD48, and those markers disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,004,528 to Bergstein, in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/468,286, and in U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 2006/0083682, 2007/0036800, 2007/0036801, 2007/0036802, 2007/0041984, 2007/0036803, and 2007/0036804, each of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. See, e.g., Table 1 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,004,528 and Tables 1, 2, and 3 of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/468,286 and U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 2006/0083682, 2007/0036800, 2007/0036801, 2007/0036802, 2007/0041984, 2007/0036803, and 2007/0036804.

In a specific embodiment the cancer stem population in a sample, e.g., a tissue sample, such as a solid tumor biopsy, is determined using immunohistochemistry techniques. This method exploits the differential expression of certain surface markers on cancer stem cells relative to the bulk of the tumor. Labeled antibodies (e.g., fluorescent antibodies) can be used to react with the cells in the sample, and the tissue is subsequently stained. In some embodiments, a combination of certain cell surface markers are utilized in order to determine the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample. Cancer stem cells for specific tumor types can be determined by assessing the expression of certain markers that are specific to cancer stem cells. In certain embodiments, the tumors harbor cancer stem cells and their associated markers as set forth in Table 2 above.

Suitable cancer stem cell antigens may be identified: (i) through publicly available information, such as published and unpublished expression profiles including cell surface antigens of cancer stem cells of a particular tumor type or adult stem cells for a particular tissue type (e.g. Table 2), and/or (ii) by cloning cancer stem cells or adult stem cells of a particular tumor or tissue type, respectively, in order to determine their expression profiles and complement of cell surface antigens. Cloning of normal stem cells is a technique routinely employed in the art (Uchida et al., “Heterogeneity of hematopoeitic stem cells”, Curr. Opin. Immunol, 5:177-184 (1993)). In fact, this same technique is used to identify normal stem cells and cancer stem cells. Moreover, assumption that a proportion of normal stem cell gene products, e.g. cell surface antigens, will also be present on cancer stem cells derived from the same tissue type has proven an effective way to identify cancer stem cell gene products and cancer stem cells. For example, knowledge that the normal hematopoietic stem cell was CD34+/CD38− resulted in the determination that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stem cells is similarly CD34+/CD38−. This indeed was confirmed by standard stem cell cloning techniques (See Bonnet et al., “Human acute myeloid leukemia is organized as a hierarchy that originates from a primitive hematopoietic cell,” Nat Med 3:730-737 (1997)). Brain cancer stem cells were similarly isolated using a marker of normal (brain) stem cells, in this case CD133 (See Singh et al. Identification of human brain tumor initiating cells. Nature 432(7015):396-401 (2004)).

In certain embodiments using flow cytometry of a sample, the Hoechst dye protocol can be used to identify cancer stem cells in tumors. Briefly, two Hoechst dyes of different colors (typically red and blue) are incubated with tumor cells. The cancer stem cells, in comparison with bulk cancer cells, over-express dye efflux pumps on their surface that allow these cells to pump the dye back out of the cell. Bulk tumor cells largely have fewer of these pumps, and are therefore relatively positive for the dye, which can be detected by flow cytometry. Typically a gradient of dye positive (“dye+”) vs. dye negative (“dye”) cells emerges when the entire population of cells is observed. Cancer stem cells are contained in the dye or dye low (dyelow) population. For an example of the use of the Hoechst dye protocol to characterize a stem cell or cancer stem cell population see Goodell et al., “A leukemic stem cell with intrinsic drug efflux pump capacity in acute myeloid leukemia,” Blood, 98(4):1166-1173 (2001) and Kondo et al., “Persistence of a small population of cancer stem-like cells in the C6 glioma cell line,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:781-786 (2004). In this way, flow cytometry could be used to measure cancer stem cell amount pre- and post-therapy to assess the change in cancer stem cell amount arising from a given therapy or regimen.

In other embodiments using flow cytometry of a sample, the cells in the sample may be treated with a substrate for aldehyde dehydrogenase that becomes fluorescent when catalyzed by this enzyme. For instance, the sample can be treated with BODIPY®—aminoacetaldehyde which is commercially available from StemCell Technologies Inc. as Aldefluor®. Cancer stem cells express high levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase relative to bulk cancer cells and therefore become brightly fluorescent upon reaction with the substrate. The cancer stem cells, which become fluorescent in this type of experiment, can then be detected and counted using a standard flow cytometer. In this way, flow cytometry could be used to measure cancer stem cell amount pre- and post-therapy to assess the change in cancer stem cell amount arising from a given therapy or regimen.

In other embodiments, a sample (e.g., a tumor or normal tissue sample, blood sample or bone marrow sample) obtained from the patient is cultured in in vitro assays to assess the cancer stem cell population or amount of cancer stem cells. For example, tumor samples can be cultured on soft agar, and the amount of cancer stem cells can be correlated to the ability of the sample to generate colonies of cells that can be visually counted. Colony formation is considered a surrogate measure of stem cell content, and thus, can be used to quantitate the amount of cancer stem cells. For instance, with hematological cancers, colony-forming assays include colony forming cell (CFC) assays, long-term culture initiating cell (LTC-IC) assays, and suspension culture initiating cell (SC-IC) assays. In this way, the colony-forming or a related assay, such as long-term perpetuation/passage of a cell line, could be used to measure cancer stem cell amount pre- and post-therapy to assess the change in cancer stem cell amount arising from a given therapy or regimen.

In other embodiments, sphere formation is measured to determine the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample (e.g., cancer stem cells form three-dimensional clusters of cells, called spheres) in appropriate media that is conducive to forming spheres. Spheres can be quantitated to provide a measure of cancer stem cells. See Singh et al., “Identification of a Cancer Stem Cell from Human Brain Tumors,” Cancer Res 63: 5821-5828 (2003). Secondary spheres can also be measured. Secondary spheres are generated when the spheres that form from the patient sample are broken apart, and then allowed to reform. In this way, the sphere-forming assay could be used to measure cancer stem cell amount pre- and post-therapy to assess the change in cancer stem cell amount arising from a given therapy or regimen.

In other embodiments, the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample can be determined with a cobblestone assay. Cancer stem cells from certain hematological cancers form “cobblestone areas” (CAs) when added to a culture containing a monolayer of bone marrow stromal cells. For instance, the amount of cancer stem cells from a leukemia sample can be assessed by this technique. The tumor samples are added to the monolayer of bone marrow stromal cells. The leukemia cancer stem cells, more so than the bulk leukemia cells, have the ability to migrate under the stromal layer and seed the formation of a colony of cells which can be seen visually under phase contrast microscopy in approximately 10-14 days as CAs. The number of CAs in the culture is a reflection of the leukemia cancer stem cell content of the tumor sample, and is considered a surrogate measure of the amount of stem cells capable of engrafting the bone marrow of immunodeficient mice. This assay can also be modified so that the CAs can be quantitated using biochemical labels of proliferating cells instead of manual counting, in order to increase the throughput of the assay. See Chung et al., “Enforced expression of an Flt3 internal tandem duplication in human CD34+ cells confers properties of self-renewal and enhanced erythropoiesis.” Blood 105(1):77-84 (2005). In this way, the cobblestone assay could be used to measure cancer stem cell amount pre- and post-therapy to assess the change in cancer stem cell amount arising from a given therapy or regimen.

In other embodiments, a sample (e.g., a tumor or normal tissue sample, blood sample or bone marrow sample) obtained from the patient is analyzed in in vivo systems to determine the cancer stem cell population or amount of cancer stem cells. In certain embodiments, for example, in vivo engraftment is used to quantitate the amount of cancer stem cells in a sample. In vivo engraftment involves implantation of a human specimen with the readout being the formation of tumors in an animal such as in immunocompromised or immunodeficient mice (such as NOD/SCID mice). Typically, the patient sample is cultured or manipulated in vitro and then injected into the mice. In these assays, mice can be injected with a decreasing amount of cells from patient samples, and the frequency of tumor formation can be plotted vs. the amount of cells injected to determine the amount of cancer stem cells in the sample. Alternatively, the rate of growth of the resulting tumor can be measured, with larger, or more rapidly advancing tumors indicating a higher cancer stem cell amount in the patient sample. In this way, an in vivo engraftment model/assay could be used to measure cancer stem cell amount pre- and post-therapy to assess the change in cancer stem cell amount arising from a given therapy or regimen.

In certain in vivo techniques, an imaging agent or diagnostic agent is used which binds to biological molecules on cancer cells or cancer stem cells, e.g., cancer cell or cancer stem cell surface antigens. For instance, a fluorescent tag, radionuclide, heavy metal, or photon-emitter is attached to an antibody (including an antibody fragment) that binds to a cancer stem cell surface antigen. Exemplary cancer stem cell surface antigens are listed above in Table 2. The medical practitioner can infuse the labeled antibody into the patient either prior to, during, or following treatment, and then the practitioner can place the patient into a total body scanner/developer which can detect the attached label (e.g., fluorescent tag, radionuclide, heavy metal, photon-emitter). The scanner/developer (e.g., CT, MRI, or other scanner, e.g. detector of fluorescent label, that can detect the label) records the presence, amount/quantity, and bodily location of the bound antibody. In this manner, the mapping and quantitation of tag (e.g. fluorescence, radioactivity, etc.) in patterns (i.e., different from patterns of normal stem cells within a tissue) within a tissue or tissues indicates the treatment efficacy within the patient's body when compared to a reference control such as the same patient at an earlier time point or a patient or healthy individual who has no detectable cancer. For example, a large signal (relative to a reference range or a prior treatment date, or prior to treatment) at a particular location indicates the presence of cancer stem cells. If this signal is increased relative to a prior date it suggests a worsening of the disease and failure of therapy or regimen. Alternatively, a signal decrease indicates that the therapy or regimen has been effective.

In a specific embodiment, the amount of cancer stem cells is detected in vivo in a subject according to a method comprising the steps of: (a) administering to the subject an effective amount of a labeled cancer stem cell marker binding agent that specifically binds to a cell surface marker found on the cancer stem cells, and (b) detecting the labeled agent in the subject following a time interval sufficient to allow the labeled agent to concentrate at sites in the subject where the cancer stem cell surface marker is expressed. In accordance with this embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is administered to the subject according to any suitable method in the art, for example, parenterally (such as intravenously), or intraperitoneally. In accordance with this embodiment, the effective amount of the agent is the amount which permits the detection of the agent in the subject. This amount will vary according to the particular subject, the label used, and the detection method employed. For example, it is understood in the art that the size of the subject and the imaging system used will determine the amount of labeled agent needed to detect the agent in a subject using an imaging means. In the case of a radiolabeled agent for a human subject, the amount of labeled agent administered is measured in terms of radioactivity, for example from about 5 to 20 millicuries of 99Tc. The time interval following the administration of the labeled agent which is sufficient to allow the labeled agent to concentrate at sites in the subject where the cancer stem cell surface marker is expressed will vary depending on several factors, for example, the type of label used, the mode of administration, and the part of the subject's body that is imaged. In a particular embodiment, the time interval that is sufficient is 6 to 48 hours, 6 to 24 hours, or 6 to 12 hours. In another embodiment the time interval is 5 to 20 days or 5 to 10 days. The presence of the labeled cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent can be detected in the subject using imaging means known in the art. In general, the imaging means employed depend upon the type of label used. Skilled artisans will be able to determine the appropriate means for detecting a particular label. Methods and devices that may be used include, but are not limited to, computed tomography (CT), whole body scan such as position emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an imager which can detect and localize fluorescent label, and sonography. In a specific embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a radioisotope and is detected in the patient using a radiation responsive surgical instrument (Thurston et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,441,050). In another embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a fluorescent compound and is detected in the patient using a fluorescence responsive scanning instrument. In another embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a positron emitting metal and is detected in the patient using positron emission-tomography. In yet another embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a paramagnetic label and is detected in a patient using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Any in vitro or in vivo (ex vivo) assays known to those skilled in the art that can detect and/or quantify cancer stem cells can be used to monitor cancer stem cells in order to evaluate the prophylactic and/or therapeutic utility of a cancer therapy or regimen disclosed herein for cancer or one or more symptoms thereof; or these assays can be used to assess the prognosis of a patient. The results of these assays then may be used to possibly maintain or alter the cancer therapy or regimen.

The amount of cancer stem cells in a specimen can be compared to a predetermined reference range and/or an earlier amount of cancer stem cells previously determined for the subject (either prior to, or during therapy) in order to gauge the subject's response to the treatment regimens described herein. In a specific embodiment, a stabilization or reduction in the amount of cancer stem cells relative to a predetermined reference range and/or earlier cancer stem cell amount previously determined for the subject (either prior to, or during therapy) indicates that the therapy or regimen was effective and thus possibly an improvement in the subject's prognosis, whereas an increase relative to the predetermined reference range and/or cancer stem cell amount detected at an earlier time point indicates that the therapy or regimen was ineffective and thus possibly the same or a worsening in the subject's prognosis. The cancer stem cell amount can be used with other standard measures of cancer to assess the prognosis of the subject and/or efficacy of the therapy or regimen: such as response rate, durability of response, relapse-free survival, disease-free survival, progression-free survival, and overall survival. In certain embodiments, the dosage, frequency and/or duration of administration of a therapy is modified as a result of the determination of the amount or change in the amount of cancer stem cells at various time points which may include prior to, during, and/or following therapy.

The present invention also relates to methods for determining that a cancer therapy or regimen is effective at targeting and/or impairing cancer stem cells by virtue of monitoring cancer stem cells over time and detecting a stabilization or decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells during and/or following the course of the cancer therapy or regimen.

In a certain embodiment, a therapy or regimen may be described or marketed as an anti-cancer stem cell therapy or regimen based on the determination that a therapy or regimen is effective at targeting and/or impairing cancer stem cells by virtue of having monitored or detected a stabilization or decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells during therapy.

The present invention is also directed to methods to treat cancer involving i) determining that a cancer therapy is effective by virtue of its ability to decrease cancer stem cells as determined by the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and ii) administering the therapy to a human(s) with cancer. The present invention is also directed to methods to treat cancer involving i) administering to a human with cancer a cancer therapy, ii) determining the amount of cancer stem cells prior to, during, and/or following therapy through the monitoring of cancer stem cells, and iii) continuing, altering, or halting therapy based on such monitoring. The present invention is also directed toward the assaying for/screening of a therapy(s) for anti-cancer stem cell activity involving i) administration of the therapy to a human with cancer, ii) monitoring cancer stem cells in or from the human prior to, during, and/or following therapy, and iii) determining whether the therapy resulted in a decrease in the amount of cancer stem cells.

4.2 In Vivo Assays

The compounds, pharmaceutical compositions, and regimens of the invention can be tested in suitable animal model systems prior to use in humans. Such animal model systems include, but are not limited to, rats, mice, chicken, cows, monkeys, pigs, dogs, rabbits, etc. Any animal system well-known in the art may be used. Several aspects of the procedure may vary; said aspects include, but are not limited to, the temporal regime of administering the therapeutic modalities (e.g., prophylactic and/or therapeutic agents), whether such therapeutic modalities are administered separately or as an admixture, and the frequency of administration of the therapeutic modalities.

Animal models for cancer can be used to assess the efficacy of a compound or a combination therapy of the invention. Examples of animal models for lung cancer include, but are not limited to, lung cancer animal models described by Zhang & Roth (1994, In Vivo 8(5):755-69) and a transgenic mouse model with disrupted p53 function (see, e.g., Morris et al. J. La. State Med. Soc. 1998, 150(4):179-85). An example of an animal model for breast cancer includes, but is not limited to, a transgenic mouse that overexpresses cyclin D1 (see, e.g., Hosokawa et al., Transgenic Res. 2001, 10(5), 471-8. An example of an animal model for colon cancer includes, but is not limited to, a TCR b and p53 double knockout mouse (see, e.g., Kado et al., Cancer Res. 2001, 61(6):2395-8). Examples of animal models for pancreatic cancer include, but are not limited to, a metastatic model of PancO2 murine pancreatic adenocarcinoma (see, e.g., Wang et al., Int. J. Pancreatol. 2001, 29(1):37-46) and nu-nu mice generated in subcutaneous pancreatic tumours (see, e.g., Ghaneh et al., Gene Ther. 2001, 8(3):199-208). Examples of animal models for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include, but are not limited to, a severe combined immunodeficiency (“SCID”) mouse (see, e.g., Bryant et al., Lab Invest. 2000, 80(4), 553-73) and an IgHmu-HOX11 transgenic mouse (see, e.g., Hough et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1998, 95(23), 13853-8. An example of an animal model for esophageal cancer includes, but is not limited to, a mouse transgenic for the human papillomavirus type 16 E7 oncogene (see, e.g., Herber et al., J. Virol. 1996, 70(3):1873-81). Examples of animal models for colorectal carcinomas include, but are not limited to, Apc mouse models (see, e.g., Fodde & Smits, Trends Mol. Med. 2001, 7(8):369-73 and Kuraguchi et al., Oncogene 2000, 19(50), 5755-63).

In certain in vivo techniques, an imaging agent, or diagnostic moiety, is used which binds to molecules on cancer cells or cancer stem cells, e.g., cancer cell or cancer stem cell surface antigens. For instance, a fluorescent tag, radionuclide, heavy metal, or photon-emitter is attached to an antibody (including an antibody fragment) that binds to a cancer stem cell surface antigen. Exemplary cancer stem cell surface antigens are listed above in Table 2. The medical practitioner can infuse the labeled antibody into the patient either prior to, during, or following treatment, and then the practitioner can place the patient into a total body scanner/developer which can detect the attached label (e.g., fluorescent tag, radionuclide, heavy metal, photon-emitter). The scanner/developer (e.g., CT, MRI, or other scanner, e.g. detector of fluorescent label, that can detect the label) records the presence, amount/quantity, and bodily location of the bound antibody. In this manner, the mapping and quantitation of tag (e.g. fluorescence, radioactivity, etc.) in patterns (i.e., different from patterns of normal stem cells within a tissue) within a tissue or tissues indicates the treatment efficacy within the patient's body when compared to a reference control such as the same patient at an earlier time point or a patient who has no detectable cancer. For example, a large signal (relative to a reference range or a prior treatment date, or prior to treatment) at a particular location indicates the presence of cancer stem cells. If this signal is increased relative to a prior date it suggests a worsening of the disease and failure of therapy or regimen. Alternatively, a signal decrease indicates that therapy or regimen has been effective.

Similarly, in some embodiments of the invention, the efficacy of the therapeutic regimen in reducing the amount of cancer cells in animals (including humans) undergoing treatment can be evaluated using in vivo techniques. In one embodiment, the medical practitioner performs the imaging technique with labeled molecule that specifically binds the surface of a cancer cell, e.g., a cancer cell surface antigen. See, e.g., Table 2, above, for a list of certain cancer cell surface antigens. In this manner, the mapping and quantitation of tag (e.g., fluorescence, radioactivity) in patterns within a tissue or tissues indicates the treatment efficacy within the body of the patient undergoing treatment.

In a specific embodiment, the amount of cancer stem cells is detected in vivo in a subject according to a method comprising the steps of: (a) administering to the subject an effective amount of a labeled cancer stem cell marker binding agent that specifically binds to a cell surface marker found on the cancer stem cells, and (b) detecting the labeled agent in the subject following a time interval sufficient to allow the labeled agent to concentrate at sites in the subject where the cancer stem cell surface marker is expressed. In accordance with this embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is administered to the subject according to any suitable method in the art, for example, parenterally (e.g. intravenously), or intraperitoneally. In accordance with this embodiment, the effective amount of the agent is the amount which permits the detection of the agent in the subject. This amount will vary according to the particular subject, the label used, and the detection method employed. For example, it is understood in the art that the size of the subject and the imaging system used will determine the amount of labeled agent needed to detect the agent in a subject using imaging. In the case of a radiolabeled agent for a human subject, the amount of labeled agent administered is measured in terms of radioactivity, for example from about 5 to 20 millicuries of 99Tc. The time interval following the administration of the labeled agent which is sufficient to allow the labeled agent to concentrate at sites in the subject where the cancer stem cell surface marker is expressed will vary depending on several factors, for example, the type of label used, the mode of administration, and the part of the subject's body that is imaged. In a particular embodiment, the time interval that is sufficient is 6 to 48 hours, 6 to 24 hours, or 6 to 12 hours. In another embodiment the time interval is 5 to 20 days or 5 to 10 days. The presence of the labeled cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent can be detected in the subject using imaging means known in the art. In general, the imaging means employed depend upon the type of label used. Skilled artisans will be able to determine the appropriate means for detecting a particular label. Methods and devices that may be used include, but are not limited to, computed tomography (CT), whole body scan such as position emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluorescence, chemiluminescence, an imager which can detect and localize fluorescent label and sonography. In a specific embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a radioisotope and is detected in the patient using a radiation responsive surgical instrument (Thurston et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,441,050). In another embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a fluorescent compound and is detected in the patient using a fluorescence responsive scanning instrument. In another embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a positron emitting metal and is detected in the patient using positron emission-tomography. In yet another embodiment, the cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent is labeled with a paramagnetic label and is detected in a patient using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Any in vitro or in vivo (ex vivo) assays known to those skilled in the art that can detect and/or quantify cancer stem cells can be used to monitor cancer stem cells in order to evaluate the prophylactic and/or therapeutic utility of a cancer therapy or regimen disclosed herein for cancer or one or more symptoms thereof; or these assays can be used to assess the prognosis of a patient. The results of these assays then may be used to possibly maintain or alter the cancer therapy or regimen.

4.3 Types of Cancer

With any type of cancer for which a patient can be treated, the cancer stem cells thereof can be monitored in accordance with the invention. The medical practitioner can diagnose the patient using any of the conventional cancer screening methods including, but not limited to physical examination (e.g., prostate examination, rectal examination, breast examination, lymph nodes examination, abdominal examination, skin surveillance, testicular exam, general palpation), visual methods (e.g., colonoscopy, bronchoscopy, endoscopy), PAP smear analyses (cervical cancer), stool guaiac analyses, blood tests (e.g., complete blood count (CBC) test, prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test, cancer antigen (CA)-125 test, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), liver function tests), karyotyping analyses, bone marrow analyses (e.g., in cases of hematological malignancies), histology, cytology, flow cytometry, a sputum analysis and imaging methods (e.g., computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, X-ray imaging, mammography, PET scans, bone scans).

Non-limiting examples of cancers include: leukemias, such as but not limited to, acute leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myelocytic leukemias, such as, myeloblastic, promyelocytic, myelomonocytic, monocytic, and erythroleukemia leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS); chronic leukemias, such as but not limited to, chronic myelocytic (granulocytic) leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia; polycythemia vera; lymphomas such as but not limited to Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's disease; multiple myelomas such as but not limited to smoldering multiple myeloma, nonsecretory myeloma, osteosclerotic myeloma, plasma cell leukemia, solitary plasmacytoma and extramedullary plasmacytoma; Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia; monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance; benign monoclonal gammopathy; heavy chain disease; bone and connective tissue sarcomas such as but not limited to bone sarcoma, osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, malignant giant cell tumor, fibrosarcoma of bone, chordoma, periosteal sarcoma, soft-tissue sarcomas, angiosarcoma (hemangiosarcoma), fibrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, lymphangiosarcoma, neurilemmoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, synovial sarcoma; brain tumors such as but not limited to, glioma, astrocytoma, brain stem glioma, ependymoma, oligodendroglioma, nonglial tumor, acoustic neurinoma, craniopharyngioma, medulloblastoma, meningioma, pineocytoma, pineoblastoma, primary brain lymphoma; breast cancer including but not limited to ductal carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, lobular (small cell) carcinoma, intraductal carcinoma, medullary breast cancer, mucinous breast cancer, tubular breast cancer, papillary breast cancer, Paget's disease, and inflammatory breast cancer; adrenal cancer such as but not limited to pheochromocytom and adrenocortical carcinoma; thyroid cancer such as but not limited to papillary or follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer; pancreatic cancer such as but not limited to, insulinoma, gastrinoma, glucagonoma, vipoma, somatostatin-secreting tumor, and carcinoid or islet cell tumor; pituitary cancers such as but limited to Cushing's disease, prolactin-secreting tumor, acromegaly, and diabetes insipius; eye cancers such as but not limited to ocular melanoma such as iris melanoma, choroidal melanoma, and cilliary body melanoma, and retinoblastoma; vaginal cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and melanoma; vulvar cancer such as squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, adenocarcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, sarcoma, and Paget's disease; cervical cancers such as but not limited to, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma; uterine cancers such as but not limited to endometrial carcinoma and uterine sarcoma; ovarian cancers such as but not limited to, ovarian epithelial carcinoma, borderline tumor, germ cell tumor, and stromal tumor; esophageal cancers such as but not limited to, squamous cancer, adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, plasmacytoma, verrucous carcinoma, and oat cell (small cell) carcinoma; stomach cancers such as but not limited to, adenocarcinoma, fungating (polypoid), ulcerating, superficial spreading, diffusely spreading, malignant lymphoma, liposarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and carcinosarcoma; colon cancers; rectal cancers; liver cancers such as but not limited to hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatoblastoma; gallbladder cancers such as adenocarcinoma; cholangiocarcinomas such as but not limited to papillary, nodular, and diffuse; lung cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (epidermoid carcinoma), adenocarcinoma, large-cell carcinoma and small-cell lung cancer; testicular cancers such as but not limited to germinal tumor, seminoma, anaplastic, classic (typical), spermatocytic, nonseminoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma carcinoma, choriocarcinoma (yolk-sac tumor), prostate cancers such as but not limited to, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, adenocarcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma; penal cancers; oral cancers such as but not limited to squamous cell carcinoma; basal cancers; salivary gland cancers such as but not limited to adenocarcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and adenoidcystic carcinoma; pharynx cancers such as but not limited to squamous cell cancer, and verrucous; skin cancers such as but not limited to, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, lentigo malignant melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma; kidney cancers such as but not limited to renal cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, hypemephroma, fibrosarcoma, transitional cell cancer (renal pelvis and/or uterer); Wilms' tumor; bladder cancers such as but not limited to transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell cancer, adenocarcinoma, carcinosarcoma. In addition, cancers include myxosarcoma, osteogenic sarcoma, endotheliosarcoma, lymphangioendotheliosarcoma, mesothelioma, synovioma, hemangioblastoma, epithelial carcinoma, cystadenocarcinoma, bronchogenic carcinoma, sweat gland carcinoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, papillary carcinoma and papillary adenocarcinomas (for a review of such disorders, see Fishman et al., 1985, Medicine, 2d Ed., J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia and Murphy et al., 1997, Informed Decisions: The Complete Book of Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery, Viking Penguin, Penguin Books U.S.A., Inc., United States of America).

Other cancers or other abnormal proliferative diseases, include but are not limited to, the following: carcinoma, including that of the bladder, breast, colon, kidney, liver, lung, ovary, pancreas, stomach, cervix, thyroid and skin; including squamous cell carcinoma; hematopoietic tumors of lymphoid lineage, including leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, T cell lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma; hematopoietic tumors of myeloid lineage, including acute and chronic myelogenous leukemias and promyelocytic leukemia; tumors of mesenchymal origin, including fibrosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma; other tumors, including melanoma, seminoma, teratocarcinoma, neuroblastoma and glioma; tumors of the central and peripheral nervous system, including astrocytoma, neuroblastoma, glioma, and schwannomas; tumors of mesenchymal origin, including fibrosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and osteosarcoma; and other tumors, including melanoma, xeroderma pigmentosum, keratoctanthoma, seminoma, thyroid follicular cancer and teratocarcinoma. Cancers associated with aberrations in apoptosis are also included and are not be limited to, follicular lymphomas, carcinomas with p53 mutations, hormone dependent tumors of the breast, prostate and ovary, and precancerous lesions such as familial adenomatous polyposis, and myelodysplastic syndromes. In specific embodiments, malignancy or dysproliferative changes (such as metaplasias and dysplasias), or hyperproliferative disorders of the skin, lung, liver, bone, brain, stomach, colon, breast, prostate, bladder, kidney, pancreas, ovary, and/or uterus are encompassed in the invention.

Non-limiting examples of leukemias and other blood-borne cancers include acute lymphoblastic leukemia “ALL”, acute lymphoblastic B-cell leukemia, acute lymphoblastic T-cell leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia “AML”, acute promyelocytic leukemia “APL”, acute monoblastic leukemia, acute erythroleukemic leukemia, acute megakaryoblastic leukemia, acute myelomonocytic leukemia, acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, acute undifferentiated leukemia, chronic myelocytic leukemia “CML”, chronic lymphocytic leukemia “CLL”, and hairy cell leukemia.

Non-limiting examples of lymphomas include Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Multiple myeloma, Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, Heavy chain disease, and Polycythemia vera.

Non-limiting examples of solid tumors encompassed in the invention include, but are not limited to fibrosarcoma, myxosarcoma, liposarcoma, chondrosarcoma, osteogenic sarcoma, chordoma, angiosarcoma, endotheliosarcoma, lymphangiosarcoma, lymphangioendotheliosarcoma, synovioma, mesothelioma, Ewing's tumor, leiomyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, bone cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, oral cancer, nasal cancer, throat cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, sweat gland carcinoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, papillary carcinoma, papillary adenocarcinomas, cystadenocarcinoma, medullary carcinoma, bronchogenic carcinoma, renal cell carcinoma, hepatoma, bile duct carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, seminoma, embryonal carcinoma, Wilms' tumor, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, testicular cancer, small cell lung carcinoma, bladder carcinoma, lung cancer, epithelial carcinoma, glioma, glioblastoma multiforme, astrocytoma, medulloblastoma, craniopharyngioma, ependymoma, pinealoma, hemangioblastoma, acoustic neuroma, oligodendroglioma, meningioma, skin cancer, melanoma, neuroblastoma, and retinoblastoma.

4.4 Cancer Therapies

Any therapy (e.g., therapeutic or prophylactic agent) which is useful, has been used, is currently being used, or may be used for the prevention, treatment and/or management of cancer can be used to prevent, treat, and/or manage the patient whose cancer stem cells are monitored in accordance with the methods of the invention. Also, such cancer stem cell monitoring can be employed in conjunction with any such therapy for cancer. Therapies (e.g., therapeutic or prophylactic agents) include, but are not limited to, peptides, polypeptides, fusion proteins, nucleic acid molecules, small molecules, mimetic agents, synthetic drugs, inorganic molecules, and organic molecules. Non-limiting examples of cancer therapies include chemotherapies, radiation therapies, hormonal therapies, anti-angiogenesis therapies, targeted therapies, and/or biological therapies including immunotherapies and surgery. In certain embodiments, a prophylactically and/or therapeutically effective regimen comprises the administration of a combination of therapies.

Examples of cancer therapies include, but are not limited to: acivicin; aclarubicin; acodazole hydrochloride; acronine; adozelesin; aldesleukin; altretamine; ambomycin; ametantrone acetate; aminoglutethimide; amsacrine; anastrozole; anthracyclin; anthramycin; asparaginase; asperlin; azacitidine (Vidaza); azetepa; azotomycin; batimastat; benzodepa; bicalutamide; bisantrene hydrochloride; bisnafide dimesylate; bisphosphonates (e.g., pamidronate (Aredria), sodium clondronate (Bonefos), zoledronic acid (Zometa), alendronate (Fosamax), etidronate, ibandornate, cimadronate, risedromate, and tiludromate); bizelesin; bleomycin sulfate; brequinar sodium; bropirimine; busulfan; cactinomycin; calusterone; caracemide; carbetimer; carboplatin; carmustine; carubicin hydrochloride; carzelesin; cedefingol; chlorambucil; cirolemycin; cisplatin; cladribine; crisnatol mesylate; cyclophosphamide; cytarabine (Ara-C); dacarbazine; dactinomycin; daunorubicin hydrochloride; decitabine (Dacogen); demethylation agents, dexormaplatin; dezaguanine; dezaguanine mesylate; diaziquone; docetaxel; doxorubicin; doxorubicin hydrochloride; droloxifene; droloxifene citrate; dromostanolone propionate; duazomycin; edatrexate; eflornithine hydrochloride; EphA2 inhibitors; elsamitrucin; enloplatin; enpromate; epipropidine; epirubicin hydrochloride; erbulozole; esorubicin hydrochloride; estramustine; estramustine phosphate sodium; etanidazole; etoposide; etoposide phosphate; etoprine; fadrozole hydrochloride; fazarabine; fenretinide; floxuridine; fludarabine phosphate; fluorouracil; fluorocitabine; fosquidone; fostriecin sodium; gemcitabine; gemcitabine hydrochloride; histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDAC-Is) hydroxyurea; idarubicin hydrochloride; ifosfamide; ilmofosine; imatinib mesylate (Gleevec, Glivec); interleukin II (including recombinant interleukin II, or rIL2), interferon alpha-2a; interferon alpha-2b; interferon alpha-n1; interferon alpha-n3; interferon beta-I a; interferon gamma-I b; iproplatin; irinotecan hydrochloride; lanreotide acetate; lenalidomide (Revlimid); letrozole; leuprolide acetate; liarozole hydrochloride; lometrexol sodium; lomustine; losoxantrone hydrochloride; masoprocol; maytansine; mechlorethamine hydrochloride; anti-CD2 antibodies (e.g., siplizumab (MedImmune Inc.; International Publication No. WO 02/098370, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety)); megestrol acetate; melengestrol acetate; melphalan; menogaril; mercaptopurine; methotrexate; methotrexate sodium; metoprine; meturedepa; mitindomide; mitocarcin; mitocromin; mitogillin; mitomalcin; mitomycin; mitosper; mitotane; mitoxantrone hydrochloride; mycophenolic acid; nocodazole; nogalamycin; ormaplatin; oxaliplatin; oxisuran; paclitaxel; pegaspargase; peliomycin; pentamustine; peplomycin sulfate; perfosfamide; pipobroman; piposulfan; piroxantrone hydrochloride; plicamycin; plomestane; porfimer sodium; porfiromycin; prednimustine; procarbazine hydrochloride; puromycin; puromycin hydrochloride; pyrazofurin; riboprine; rogletimide; safingol; safingol hydrochloride; semustine; simtrazene; sparfosate sodium; sparsomycin; spirogermanium hydrochloride; spiromustine; spiroplatin; streptonigrin; streptozocin; sulofenur; talisomycin; tecogalan sodium; tegafur; teloxantrone hydrochloride; temoporfin; teniposide; teroxirone; testolactone; thiamiprine; thioguanine; thiotepa; tiazofurin; tirapazamine; toremifene citrate; trestolone acetate; triciribine phosphate; trimetrexate; trimetrexate glucuronate; triptorelin; tubulozole hydrochloride; uracil mustard; uredepa; vapreotide; verteporfin; vinblastine sulfate; vincristine sulfate; vindesine; vindesine sulfate; vinepidine sulfate; vinglycinate sulfate; vinleurosine sulfate; vinorelbine tartrate; vinrosidine sulfate; vinzolidine sulfate; vorozole; zeniplatin; zinostatin; zorubicin hydrochloride.

Other examples of cancer therapies include, but are not limited to: 20-epi-1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3; 5-ethynyluracil; abiraterone; aclarubicin; acylfulvene; adecypenol; adozelesin; aldesleukin; ALL-TK antagonists; altretamine; ambamustine; amidox; amifostine; aminolevulinic acid; amrubicin; amsacrine; anagrelide; anastrozole; andrographolide; angiogenesis inhibitors; antagonist D; antagonist G; antarelix; anti-dorsalizing morphogenetic protein-1; antiandrogen, prostatic carcinoma; antiestrogen; antineoplaston; antisense oligonucleotides; aphidicolin glycinate; apoptosis gene modulators; apoptosis regulators; apurinic acid; ara-CDP-DL-PTBA; arginine deaminase; asulacrine; atamestane; atrimustine; axinastatin 1; axinastatin 2; axinastatin 3; azasetron; azatoxin; azatyrosine; baccatin III derivatives; balanol; batimastat; BCR/ABL antagonists; benzochlorins; benzoylstaurosporine; beta lactam derivatives; beta-alethine; betaclamycin B; betulinic acid; bFGF inhibitor; bicalutamide; bisantrene; bisaziridinylspermine; bisnafide; bistratene A; bizelesin; breflate; bropirimine; budotitane; buthionine sulfoximine; calcipotriol; calphostin C; camptothecin derivatives; canarypox IL-2; capecitabine; carboxamide-amino-triazole; carboxyamidotriazole; CaRest M3; CARN 700; cartilage derived inhibitor; carzelesin; casein kinase inhibitors (ICOS); castanospermine; cecropin B; cetrorelix; chlorins; chloroquinoxaline sulfonamide; cicaprost; cis-porphyrin; cladribine; clomifene analogues; clotrimazole; collismycin A; collismycin B; combretastatin A4; combretastatin analogue; conagenin; crambescidin 816; crisnatol; cryptophycin 8; cryptophycin A derivatives; curacin A; cyclopentanthraquinones; cycloplatam; cypemycin; cytarabine ocfosfate; cytolytic factor; cytostatin; dacliximab; decitabine; dehydrodidemnin B; deslorelin; dexamethasone; dexifosfamide; dexrazoxane; dexverapamil; diaziquone; didemnin B; didox; diethylnorspermine; dihydro-5-azacytidine; dihydrotaxol, dioxamycin; diphenyl spiromustine; docetaxel; docosanol; dolasetron; doxifluridine; droloxifene; dronabinol; duocarmycin SA; ebselen; ecomustine; edelfosine; edrecolomab; eflomithine; elemene; emitefur; epirubicin; epristeride; estramustine analogue; estrogen agonists; estrogen antagonists; etanidazole; etoposide phosphate; exemestane; fadrozole; fazarabine; fenretinide; filgrastim; finasteride; flavopiridol; flezelastine; fluasterone; fludarabine; fluorodaunorunicin hydrochloride; forfenimex; formestane; fostriecin; fotemustine; gadolinium texaphyrin; gallium nitrate; galocitabine; ganirelix; gelatinase inhibitors; gemcitabine; glutathione inhibitors; HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (e.g., atorvastatin, cerivastatin, fluvastatin, lescol, lupitor, lovastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin); hepsulfam; heregulin; hexamethylene bisacetamide; hypericin; ibandronic acid; idarubicin; idoxifene; idramantone; ilmofosine; ilomastat; imidazoacridones; imiquimod; immunostimulant peptides; insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor inhibitor; interferon agonists; interferons; interleukins; iobenguane; iododoxorubicin; ipomeanol, 4-iroplact; irsogladine; isobengazole; isohomohalicondrin B; itasetron; jasplakinolide; kahalalide F; lamellarin-N triacetate; lanreotide; leinamycin; lenograstim; lentinan sulfate; leptolstatin; letrozole; leukemia inhibiting factor; leukocyte alpha interferon; leuprolide+estrogen+progesterone; leuprorelin; levamisole; LFA-3TIP (Biogen, Cambridge, Mass.; International Publication No. WO 93/0686 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,162,432); liarozole; linear polyamine analogue; lipophilic disaccharide peptide; lipophilic platinum compounds; lissoclinamide 7; lobaplatin; lombricine; lometrexol; lonidamine; losoxantrone; lovastatin; loxoribine; lurtotecan; lutetium texaphyrin; lysofylline; lytic peptides; maitansine; mannostatin A; marimastat; masoprocol; maspin; matrilysin inhibitors; matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors; menogaril; merbarone; meterelin; methioninase; metoclopramide; MIF inhibitor; mifepristone; miltefosine; mirimostim; mismatched double stranded RNA; mitoguazone; mitolactol; mitomycin analogues; mitonafide; mitotoxin fibroblast growth factor-saporin; mitoxantrone; mofarotene; molgramostim; monoclonal antibody, human chorionic gonadotrophin; monophosphoryl lipid A+myobacterium cell wall sk; mopidamol; multiple drug resistance gene inhibitor; multiple tumor suppressor 1-based therapy; mustard anticancer agent; mycaperoxide B; mycobacterial cell wall extract; myriaporone; N-acetyldinaline; N-substituted benzamides; nafarelin; nagrestip; naloxone+pentazocine; napavin; naphterpin; nartograstim; nedaplatin; nemorubicin; neridronic acid; neutral endopeptidase; nilutamide; nisamycin; nitric oxide modulators; nitroxide antioxidant; nitrullyn; O6-benzylguanine; octreotide; okicenone; oligonucleotides; onapristone; oracin; oral cytokine inducer; ormaplatin; osaterone; oxaliplatin; oxaunomycin; paclitaxel; paclitaxel analogues; paclitaxel derivatives; palauamine; palmitoylrhizoxin; pamidronic acid; panaxytriol; panomifene; parabactin; pazelliptine; pegaspargase; peldesine; pentosan polysulfate sodium; pentostatin; pentrozole; perflubron; perfosfamide; perillyl alcohol; phenazinomycin; phenylacetate; phosphatase inhibitors; picibanil; pilocarpine hydrochloride; pirarubicin; piritrexim; placetin A; placetin B; plasminogen activator inhibitor; platinum complex; platinum compounds; platinum-triamine complex; porfimer sodium; porfiromycin; prednisone; propyl bis-acridone; prostaglandin J2; proteasome inhibitors; protein A-based immune modulator; protein kinase C inhibitor; protein kinase C inhibitors, microalgal; protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitors; purine nucleoside phosphorylase inhibitors; purpurins; pyrazoloacridine; pyridoxylated hemoglobin polyoxyethylene; raf antagonists; raltitrexed; ramosetron; ras farnesyl protein transferase inhibitors; ras inhibitors; ras-GAP inhibitor; retelliptine demethylated; rhenium Re 186 etidronate; rhizoxin; ribozymes; RII retinamide; rogletimide; rohitukine; romurtide; roquinimex; rubiginone B1; ruboxyl; safingol; saintopin; SarCNU; sarcophytol A; sargramostim; Sdi 1 mimetics; semustine; senescence derived inhibitor 1; sense oligonucleotides; signal transduction inhibitors; signal transduction modulators; gamma secretase inhibitors, single chain antigen binding protein; sizofuran; sobuzoxane; sodium borocaptate; sodium phenylacetate; solverol; somatomedin binding protein; sonermin; sparfosic acid; spicamycin D; spiromustine; splenopentin; spongistatin 1; squalamine; stem cell inhibitor; stem-cell division inhibitors; stipiamide; stromelysin inhibitors; sulfinosine; superactive vasoactive intestinal peptide antagonist; suradista; suramin; swainsonine; synthetic glycosaminoglycans; tallimustine; 5-fluorouracil; leucovorin; tamoxifen methiodide; tauromustine; tazarotene; tecogalan sodium; tegafur; tellurapyrylium; telomerase inhibitors; temoporfin; temozolomide; teniposide; tetrachlorodecaoxide; tetrazomine; thaliblastine; thiocoraline; thrombopoietin; thrombopoietin mimetic; thymalfasin; thymopoietin receptor agonist; thymotrinan; thyroid stimulating hormone; tin ethyl etiopurpurin; tirapazamine; titanocene bichloride; topsentin; toremifene; totipotent stem cell factor; translation inhibitors; tretinoin; triacetyluridine; triciribine; trimetrexate; triptorelin; tropisetron; turosteride; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; tyrphostins; UBC inhibitors; ubenimex; urogenital sinus-derived growth inhibitory factor; urokinase receptor antagonists; vapreotide; variolin B; vector system, erythrocyte gene therapy; thalidomide; velaresol; veramine; verdins; verteporfin; vinorelbine; vinxaltine; anti-integrin antibodies (e.g., anti-integrin αvβ3 antibodies); vorozole; zanoterone; zeniplatin; zilascorb; and zinostatin stimalamer.

A non-limiting list of compounds that could be used to target cancer stem cells includes: inhibitors of interleukin-3 receptor (IL-3R) and CD123 (including peptides, peptide-conjugates, antibodies, antibody-conjugates, antibody fragments, and antibody fragment-conjugates that target IL-3R or CD123); cantharidin; norcantharidin and analogs and derivatives thereof; Notch pathway inhibitors including gamma secretase inhibitors; sonic hedgehog/smoothened pathway inhibitors including cyclopamine and analogs thereof; antibodies to CD96; certain NF-kB/proteasome inhibitors including parthenolide and analogs thereof; certain triterpenes including celastrol; certain mTOR inhibitors; compounds and antibodies that target the urokinase receptor; sinefungin; certain inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) inhibitors; PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma agonists and antagonists (including pioglitazone, tesaslitazar, muraglitazar, peliglitazar, lobeglitazone, balaglitazone, ragaglitazar, rosiglitazone, farglitazar, sodelglitazar, reglitazar, naveglitazar, oxeglitazar, metaglidasen, netoglitazone, darglitazone, englitazone, thiazolidinediones, aleglitazar, edaglitazone, rivoglitazone, troglitazone, imiglitazar, and sipoglitazar); telomerase inhibitors; antibodies to EpCAM (ESA); GSK-3 beta agonists and antagonists (including Lithium, 6-bromoinirubin-3′-oxime (BIO), TDZD8); Wnt pathway inhibitors including antibodies to frizzled or small molecules that inhibit disheveled/frizzled or beta catenin; anti-CD20 antibodies and conjugates (e.g. Rituxan, Bexxar, Zevalin) for novel use in multiple myeloma or melanoma; anti-CD133 antibody; anti-CD44 antibody; antibodies to IL-4; certain differentiation agents such as versnarinone; compounds that target CD33 such as an antibody or betulinic acid; compounds that target lactadherin such as an antibody; small molecules or antibodies that target CXCR4 or SDF-1; small molecules or antibodies that target multi-drug resistance pumps; inhibitors of survivin; inhibitors of XIAP; small molecules that target Bcl-2; antibodies to CLL-1; and furin inhibitors (such as cucurbitacins).

An additional non-limiting list of compounds that could also be used to target cancer stem cells includes i) antibodies, antibody fragments, and proteins that are either naked or conjugated to a therapeutic moiety that target certain cell surface targets on cancer stem cells, or ii) small molecules known in the art including ones that can be further optimized (e.g. via chemistry) or identified via a cancer stem cell-based screen (e.g. such as one that would determine whether a compound impairs proliferation or viability of a cancer stem cell through standard methods, the cell surface and intracellular targets including (not meant to be exhaustive) are: Rex1 (Zfp42), CTGF, Activin A, Wnt, FGF-2, HIF-1, AP-2gamma, Bmi-1, nucleostemin, hiwi, Moz-TIF2, Nanog, beta-arrestin-2, Oct-4, Sox2, stella, GDF3, RUNX3, EBAF, TDGF-1, nodal, ZFPY, PTNE, Evi-1, Pax3, Mcl-1, c-kit, Lex-1, Zfx, lactadherin, aldehyde dehydrogenase, BCRP, telomerase, CD133, Bcl-2, CD26, Gremlin, and FoxC2.

In some embodiments, the therapy(ies) is an immunomodulatory agent. Non-limiting examples of immunomodulatory agents include proteinaceous agents such as cytokines, peptide mimetics, and antibodies (e.g., human, humanized, chimeric, monoclonal, polyclonal, Fvs, ScFvs, Fab or F(ab)2 fragments or epitope binding fragments), nucleic acid molecules (e.g., antisense nucleic acid molecules and triple helices), small molecules, organic compounds, and inorganic compounds. In particular, immunomodulatory agents include, but are not limited to, methotrexate, leflunomide, cyclophosphamide, cytoxan, Immuran, cyclosporine A, minocycline, azathioprine, antibiotics (e.g., FK506 (tacrolimus)), methylprednisolone (MP), corticosteroids, steroids, mycophenolate mofetil, rapamycin (sirolimus), mizoribine, deoxyspergualin, brequinar, malononitriloamides (e.g., leflunamide), T cell receptor modulators, cytokine receptor modulators, and modulators mast cell modulators. Other examples of immunomodulatory agents can be found, e.g., in U.S. Publication No. 2005/0002934 A1 at paragraphs 259-275 which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. In one embodiment, the immunomodulatory agent is a chemotherapeutic agent. In an alternative embodiment, the immunomodulatory agent is an immunomodulatory agent other than a chemotherapeutic agent. In some embodiments, the therapy(ies) used in accordance with the invention is not an immunomodulatory agent.

In some embodiments, the therapy(ies) is an anti-angiogenic agent. Non-limiting examples of anti-angiogenic agents include proteins, polypeptides, peptides, fusion proteins, antibodies (e.g., human, humanized, chimeric, monoclonal, polyclonal, Fvs, ScFvs, Fab fragments, F(ab)2 fragments, and antigen-binding fragments thereof) such as antibodies that specifically bind to TNF-α, nucleic acid molecules (e.g., antisense molecules or triple helices), organic molecules, inorganic molecules, and small molecules that reduce or inhibit angiogenesis. Other examples of anti-angiogenic agents can be found, e.g., in U.S. Publication No. 2005/0002934 A1 at paragraphs 277-282, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. In other embodiments, the therapy(ies) is not an anti-angiogenic agent.

In certain embodiments, the therapy(ies) is an alkylating agent, a nitrosourea, an antimetabolite, and anthracyclin, a topoisomerase II inhibitor, or a mitotic inhibitor. Alkylating agents include, but are not limited to, busulfan, cisplatin, carboplatin, chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, decarbazine, mechlorethamine, mephalen, and themozolomide. Nitrosoureas include, but are not limited to carmustine (BCNU) and lomustine (CCNU). Antimetabolites include but are not limited to 5-fluorouracil, capecitabine, methotrexate, gemcitabine, cytarabine, and fludarabine. Anthracyclins include but are not limited to daunorubicin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, and mitoxantrone. Topoisomerase II inhibitors include, but are not limited to, topotecan, irinotecan, etopiside (VP-16), and teniposide. Mitotic inhibitors include, but are not limited to taxanes (paclitaxel, docetaxel), and the vinca alkaloids (vinblastine, vincristine, and vinorelbine).

In some embodiments of the invention, the therapy(ies) includes the administration cantharidin or an analog thereof. For instance, in specific embodiments, the therapy administered includes one or more cantharidin analogs selected from those described in McCluskey et al., U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 2004/0209934 A1 and 2004/0110822 A1, the disclosures of both of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties. In other embodiments, the therapy(ies) does not include administration of cantharidin or an analog thereof.

The invention includes the use of agents that target cancer stem cells. In certain embodiments, the agent acts alone. In other embodiments, the agent is attached directly or indirectly to another therapeutic moiety. Non-limiting examples of therapeutic moieties include, but are not limited to alkylating agents, anti-metabolites, plant alkaloids, cytotoxic agents, chemotherapeutic agents (e.g., a steroid, cytosine arabinoside, fluoruracil, methotrexate, aminopterin, mitomycin C, demecolcine, etoposide, mithramycin, calicheamicin, CC-1065, chlorambucil or melphalan), radionuclides, therapeutic enzymes, cytokines, toxins including plant-derived toxins, fungus-derived toxins, bacteria-derived toxin (e.g., deglycosylated ricin A chain, a ribosome inactivating protein, alpha-sarcin, aspergillin, restirictocin, a ribonuclease, a diphtheria toxin, Pseudomonas exotoxin, a bacterial endotoxin or the lipid A moiety of a bacterial endotoxin), growth modulators and RNase. In some embodiments, the agent used is an agent that binds to a marker, e.g., an antigen on a cancer stem cell. In a specific embodiment, the agent binds to an antigen that is expressed at a greater level on cancer stem cells than on normal stem cells. In a specific embodiment, the agent binds specifically to a cancer stem cell antigen that is not a normal stem cell. In other embodiments, the therapy(ies) is an agent that binds to a marker on cancer stem cells. In one embodiment, the agent that binds to a marker on cancer stem cells is an antibody or an antibody conjugated to a therapeutic moiety or an antibody fragment conjugated to a therapeutic moiety.

For example, in a specific embodiment, the agent binds specifically to the IL-3 Receptor (IL-3R). In some embodiments, the agent that binds to the IL-3R is an antibody or an antibody fragment that is specific for IL-3R. In some embodiments, the antibody or antibody fragment is conjugated either chemically or via recombinant technology to a therapeutic moiety (e.g., a chemotherapeutic agent, a plant-, fungus- or bacteria-derived toxin, a radionuclide) using a linking agent to effect a cell killing response. In certain embodiments, the antibody, antibody-conjugate, antibody fragment, or antibody fragment-conjugate binds to the α-subunit of IL-3R (i.e., the CD123 antigen). In other embodiments, the antibody, antibody-conjugate, antibody fragment, or antibody fragment-conjugate binds to the IL-3R, containing both the α and β subunits. Methods for preparing antibodies to IL-3R and mimetics of antibodies to IL-3R are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,733,743 B2, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

In other embodiments, the agent that binds to a marker on cancer stem cells is a ligand. In some embodiments, the ligand is a cytokine that binds to a cytokine receptor on cancer stem cells. In a particular embodiment, the ligand is interleukin-3 (IL-3) which can be conjugated to a therapeutic moiety that includes a chemotherapeutic agent, a plant-, fungus-, or bacteria-derived toxin, or a radionuclide. The IL-3-conjugate prophylactic and/or therapeutic therapy or regimen can be in the form of a recombinant fusion protein in embodiments where the conjugate is a toxin and the toxin is a protein, such as diphtheria toxin. Methods for preparing and isolating an IL-3-diphtheria toxin fusion protein (IL3DT) are described in Frankel et al., “Diphtheria toxin fused to human interleukin-3 is toxic to blasts from patients with myeloid leukemias,” Leukemia 14:576 (2000) and Urieto et al., “Expression and purification of the recombinant diphtheria fusion toxin DT388IL3 for phase I clinical trials,” Protein Expression and Purification 33: 123-133 (2004), the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference in their entireties.

In certain embodiments, antibodies or fragments thereof that bind to a marker on cancer stem cells are substantially non-immunogenic in the treated subject. Methods for obtaining non-immunogenic antibodies include, but are not limited to, chimerizing the antibody, humanizing the antibody, and isolating antibodies from the same species as the subject receiving the therapy. Antibodies or fragments thereof that bind to markers in cancer stem cells can be produced using techniques known in the art. See, for example, paragraphs 539-573 of U.S. Publication No. 2005/0002934 A1, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

In some embodiments, the therapy comprises the use of X-rays, gamma rays and other sources of radiation to destroy cancer stem cells and/or cancer cells. In specific embodiments, the radiation therapy is administered as external beam radiation or teletherapy, wherein the radiation is directed from a remote source. In other embodiments, the radiation therapy is administered as internal therapy or brachytherapy wherein a radioactive source is placed inside the body close to cancer stem cells, cancer cells and/or a tumor mass.

In some embodiments, the therapy used is a proliferation based therapy. Non-limiting examples of such therapies include a chemotherapy and radiation therapy as described supra.

Currently available therapies and their dosages, routes of administration and recommended usage are known in the art and have been described in such literature as the Physician's Desk Reference (60th ed., 2006).

In a specific embodiment, cycling therapy involves the administration of a first cancer therapeutic for a period of time, followed by the administration of a second cancer therapeutic for a period of time, optionally, followed by the administration of a third cancer therapeutic for a period of time and so forth, and repeating this sequential administration, i.e., the cycle in order to reduce the development of resistance to one of the cancer therapeutics, to avoid or reduce the side effects of one of the cancer therapeutics, and/or to improve the efficacy of the cancer therapeutics.

When two prophylactically and/or therapeutically effective regimens are administered to a subject concurrently, the term “concurrently” is not limited to the administration of the cancer therapeutics at exactly the same time, but rather, it is meant that they are administered to a subject in a sequence and within a time interval such that they can act together (e.g., synergistically to provide an increased benefit than if they were administered otherwise). For example, the cancer therapeutics may be administered at the same time or sequentially in any order at different points in time; however, if not administered at the same time, they should be administered sufficiently close in time so as to provide the desired therapeutic effect, preferably in a synergistic fashion. The combination cancer therapeutics can be administered separately, in any appropriate form and by any suitable route. When the components of the combination cancer therapeutics are not administered in the same pharmaceutical composition, it is understood that they can be administered in any order to a subject in need thereof. For example, a first prophylactically and/or therapeutically effective regimen can be administered prior to (e.g., 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, 96 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks before), concomitantly with, or subsequent to (e.g., 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, 96 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks after) the administration of the second cancer therapeutic, to a subject in need thereof. In various embodiments, the cancer therapeutics are administered 1 minute apart, 10 minutes apart, 30 minutes apart, less than 1 hour apart, 1 hour apart, 1 hour to 2 hours apart, 2 hours to 3 hours apart, 3 hours to 4 hours apart, 4 hours to 5 hours apart, 5 hours to 6 hours apart, 6 hours to 7 hours apart, 7 hours to 8 hours apart, 8 hours to 9 hours apart, 9 hours to 10 hours apart, 10 hours to 11 hours apart, 11 hours to 12 hours apart, no more than 24 hours apart or no more than 48 hours apart. In one embodiment, the cancer therapeutics are administered within the same office visit. In another embodiment, the combination cancer therapeutics are administered at 1 minute to 24 hours apart.

In a specific embodiment, the combination therapies have the same mechanism of action. In another specific embodiment, the combination therapies each have a different mechanism of action.

4.5 Kits

The present invention also provides a pharmaceutical pack or kit comprising one or more containers filled with reagents for detecting, monitoring and/or measuring cancer stem cells. In one embodiment, the pharmaceutical pack or kit optionally comprises instructions for the use of the reagents provided for detecting and/or measuring cancer stem cells. In another embodiment, the pharmaceutical pack or kit optionally comprises a notice in the form prescribed by a governmental agency regulating the manufacture, use or sale of pharmaceuticals or biological products, which notice reflects approval by the agency of manufacture, for use or sale for human administration.

In one embodiment, the pharmaceutical pack or kit comprises an agent that specifically binds to a cancer stem cell. In some embodiments, the agent is an antibody or an antibody fragment. In other embodiments, the agent is a nucleic acid. In certain embodiments, the agent is detectably labeled.

In an embodiment, the pharmaceutical pack or kit comprises in one or more containers a cancer stem cell surface marker-binding agent. In a particular embodiment, the agent is an antibody that selectively or specifically binds to a cancer stem cell surface marker. In a particular embodiment, the agent is an antibody (including, e.g., human, humanized, chimeric, monoclonal, polyclonal, Fvs, ScFvs, Fab or F(ab)2 fragments or epitope binding fragments), which cross-reacts with any cancer stem cell surface marker. In another embodiment, the antibody cross reacts with any one of the cancer stem cell surface markers listed in Table 2. In another embodiment, the antibody reacts with any one of the cancer stem cell surface markers listed in Table 1 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,004,528 or Tables 1, 2, or 3 of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/468,286, and U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 2006/0083682, 2007/0036800, 2007/0036801, 2007/0036802, 2007/0041984, 2007/0036803, and 2007/0036804, each of which is incorporated by reference herein. As an example, a kit may include an anti-CD34 antibody for positive selection, and anti-CD38 antibody for negative selection, and an anti-CD 123 antibody for positive selection to isolate and/or quantify and/or assist in the determination of the amount of leukemia cancer cells (which are CD34+/CD38−/CD123+). In accordance with this embodiment, the pharmaceutical pack or kit comprises one or more antibodies which bind to cancer stem cell surface markers, wherein each antibody binds to a different epitope of the cancer stem cell surface marker and/or binds to the cancer stem cell surface marker with a different affinity.

For antibody based kits, the kit can comprise, for example: (1) a first antibody (which may or may not be attached to a solid support) which binds to a cancer stem cell surface marker protein; and, optionally, (2) a second, different antibody which binds to either the cancer stem cell surface marker protein bound by the first antibody, or the first antibody and is conjugated to a detectable label (e.g., a fluorescent label, radioactive isotope or enzyme). The antibody-based kits may also comprise beads for conducting an immunoprecipitation. Each component of the antibody-based kits is generally in its own suitable container. Thus, these kits generally comprise distinct containers suitable for each antibody. Further, the antibody-based kits may comprise instructions for performing the assay and methods for interpreting and analyzing the data resulting from the performance of the assay.

For nucleic acid microarray kits, the kits generally comprise (but are not limited to) probes specific for certain genes attached to a solid support surface. In other embodiments, the probes are soluble. In one such embodiment, probes can be either oligonucleotides or longer length probes including probes ranging from 150 nucleotides in length to 800 nucleotides in length. The probes may be labeled with a detectable label. The microarray kits may comprise instructions for performing the assay and methods for interpreting and analyzing the data resulting from the performance of the assay. The kits may also comprise hybridization reagents and/or reagents necessary for detecting a signal produced when a probe hybridizes to a cancer stem cell surface marker nucleic acid sequence. Generally, the materials and reagents for the microarray kits are in one or more containers. Each component of the kit is generally in its own a suitable container.

For Quantitative PCR, the kits generally comprise pre-selected primers specific for certain cancer stem cell surface marker nucleic acid sequences. The Quantitative PCR kits may also comprise enzymes suitable for amplifying nucleic acids (e.g., polymerases such as Taq), and deoxynucleotides and buffers needed for the reaction mixture for amplification. The Quantitative PCR kits may also comprise probes specific for the nucleic acid sequences associated with or indicative of a condition. The probes may or may not be labeled with a fluorophore. The probes may or may not be labeled with a quencher molecule. In some embodiments, the Quantitative PCR kits also comprise components suitable for reverse-transcribing RNA including enzymes (e.g. reverse transcriptases such as AMV, MMLV and the like) and primers for reverse transcription along with deoxynucleotides and buffers needed for the reverse transcription reaction. Each component of the quantitative PCR kit is generally in its own suitable container. Thus, these kits generally comprise distinct containers suitable for each individual reagent, enzyme, primer and probe. Further, the quantitative PCR kits may comprise instructions for performing the assay and methods for interpreting and analyzing the data resulting from the performance of the assay.

A kit can optionally further comprise a predetermined amount of an isolated cancer stem cell surface marker polypeptide or a nucleic acid encoding a cancer stem cell surface marker, e.g., for use as a standard or control. The diagnostic methods of the present invention can assist in conducting or monitoring a clinical study. In accordance with the present invention, suitable test samples, e.g., of serum or tissue, obtained from a subject can be used for diagnosis.

Based on the results obtained by use of the pharmaceutical pack or kit (i.e. whether the cancer stem cell amount has stabilized or decreased), the medical practitioner administering the cancer therapy or regimen may choose to continue the therapy or regimen. Alternatively, based on the result that the cancer stem cell amount has increased, the medical practitioner may choose to continue, alter or halt the therapy or regimen.

5. EQUIVALENTS

The present invention is not to be limited in scope by the specific embodiments described which are intended as single illustrations of individual aspects of the invention, and functionally equivalent methods and components are within the scope of the invention. Indeed, various modifications of the invention, in addition to those shown and described herein, will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing description and accompanying drawings using no more than routine experimentation. Such modifications and equivalents are intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims.

All publications, patents and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference into the specification to the same extent as if each individual publication, patent or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated herein by reference.

Citation or discussion of a reference herein shall not be construed as an admission that such is prior art to the present invention.